An early morning blaze at the Hometown Wal-Mart sent shoppers and employees fleeing to the safety of the parking lot during a snowstorm and damaged a portion of the sales area.

Police have ruled the fire as an arson.

Police have released surveillance photos of four males they say are responsible for starting the fire near the lawn and garden section of the Wal-Mart store in Hometown this morning.

The males ran out of the store and got into a black vehicle and fled the parking lot headed north on Route 309. The store is still closed until further notice. Anyone with information about the identity of these males is asked to call Rush Township Police at 570-668-4242.

Firefighters and other emergency responders from a wide region responded to the 2:25 a.m. alarm for a commercial structure fire at HT Commons Shopping Center, 35 Plaza Drive, in Rush Township.

The Schuylkill Communications Center call indicated a working fire at Walmart, specifically inside the building located adjacent to the outdoor and garden supply section of the store.

First responders reported flames and smoke showing at the rear of the store.