051519-adh-nws-WalMart Fire01-lg

Crews work at the scene of a May 2019 chemical fire at the Walmart Superstore in Lebanon.

The Walmart Superstore in Lebanon reopened on Monday, nearly a week after a chemical fire filled the store with toxic smoke and prompted evacuations.

Casey Staheli, the store's senior media relations manger, said the stores' front end, food and over-the-counter pharmacy areas were scheduled to open at about 4 p.m. Monday.

“They will join the outside garden center and tire lube and express center in welcoming customers back to the store,” Staheli wrote in an email.

The store had been closed since the afternoon of May 14, after the chemical fire broke out in the store. Nearby businesses and several city streets were also closed.

Staheli said the company would not be releasing information about the cost of the damage or the process by which workers cleaned the store. He said the store was “structurally sound” for employees and customers.

Joel Lee Reynolds Jr., 49, was arrested and charged with first-degree arson and appeared Friday in Linn County Circuit Court. Prosecutor Coleen Cerda said Reynolds allegedly set the fire and told a friend it was a “trial run.” A news release from the Lebanon Fire District noted that Reynolds had been trespassed from the store after a theft arrest in 2018.

During the Friday appearance, Judge Rachel Kittson-MaQatish set security for Reynolds at $100,000.

The fire was located in an aisle where several different types of chemicals were stored and, according to detective Tim Trahan of the Lebanon Police Department, two chemicals had been mixed. Crews used a hose line to extinguish the fire, but several businesses to the north were evacuated due to the toxic smoke.

A hazardous materials team and fire departments from Sweet Home and Albany assisted in the incident along with the Lebanon Fire District and Police Department. Crews reportedly spent an hour clearing the smoke before beginning the initial fire investigation.

No injuries were reported.

Reynolds' next scheduled hearing is set for May 28.


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