UPDATE: Chase that started at the scene of a late Tuesday fire ends in arrest

Published 11:22 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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Blaze causes $100,000 worth of damage to Japan Panda, cause remains undetermined


An Austin woman was arrested late Tuesday night after leading officers on a brief chase that started at the scene of an unrelated fire at a local business.

According to a press release by the Austin Police Department’s Chief David McKichan, Samantha Ricke was arrested after fleeing the scene of a fire at Japan Panda after driving up to the location.

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Officers were called to the fire at the intersection of West Oakland Avenue and 14th Street SW in response to the fire call and while at the scene a vehicle driven by Ricke drove around a police car blocking the road and drove up to an active fire hose before being stopped.

Officers tried to communicate with the driver who ultimately reversed at a high rate of speed squealing their tires as they exited the scene,” McKichan said in the statement. “When officers attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver stopped initially before once again leaving while spinning their tires out. Officers followed with lights and sirens on, trying to once again get the vehicle to stop.”

The vehicle stopped on Eighth Avenue NW, however, the vehicle then sped away again at high speed, prompting officers to end the pursuit.

The Mower County Sheriff’s Office located the car not long after and stopped it in a parking lot at the intersection of First Drive and Fourth Street NW and arresting Ricke. Austin Police officers assisted in the arrest.

The release went on to say that Ricke was then placed in the Mower County Jail and processed for suspected DWI by the MCSO. She is being held awaiting formal charging by the Mower County Attorney’s Office.

According to Austin Fire Chief Jim McCoy, the Austin Fire Department received the fire call at around 11:25 p.m.

The fire was contained to the ceiling of the kitchen with smoke damage throughout the restaurant.

An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s office has been to the location to investigate, however a cause of the fire has yet to be determined and may not be known for a couple weeks still.

McCoy said that the fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damage to the contents and structure.