Updated: 08/08/2014 4:47 PM
Created: 08/08/2014 2:37 PM KSTP.com
By: Beth McDonough
A suspicious fire at a small business in St. Louis Park has widespread impact beyond just the building.
Employees are temporarily out of work, and other businesses are affected. Plus, the arsonist is still on the loose. That worries investigators, because they believe the crime spree is escalating.
It's not what Andy McClure wanted to see when he got to work Friday, which also happens to be the company he owns.
"I'm disturbed, I'm upset to say the least," said McClure.
This is the second arson in mere weeks at Maaco on Oxford Street near Louisiana Avenue.
"There's a lot of concern that it's escalating," said St. Louis Park Fire Chief Steve Koering. "This is more of what I would classify as aggressive behavior, they broke in the building."
Koering said the arsonist used a rock to shatter the window, then an accelerant to set at least half a dozen more fires. One of them burned a customer's car.
"The sprinkler system was intact, thank goodness. It was working and held it to small fires, mostly smoke and water damage," according to Chief Koering.
The blaze caused damage at another company next door. Firefighters got to the flames before the flames reached hazardous chemicals used at the paint and body shop. Investigators from the State Fire Marshal and Hennepin County Sheriff Offices are going over every inch of the burned business. They say what happened was intentional, a crime and a major loss.
"We're just a small business in town, trying to help folks get their cars repaired. We sure hope to catch whoever's involved," said McClure.
There were security cameras recording at the time. Fire investigators are reviewing the footage to see if the firebug's face was caught on camera. They're looking for anything that could lead to an identification.
We checked, and Maaco is the only business in the area targeted.