Photo: KSTP/ Chris Knoll.
Photo: KSTP/ Chris Knoll.
Updated: August 11, 2020 06:38 PM
Created: August 11, 2020 04:16 PM
Tuesday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the St. Paul Fire Department, St. Paul Police Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division, announced that a hotel fire in St. Paul on Aug. 4 was determined to have been intentionally set.
Investigators reviewed video footage, talked to witnesses and were able to determine the fire was purposefully set.
Authorities said they were concerned about potential victims and used cadaver dogs, heavy equipment and worked with local shelters to account for missing persons, but after four days didn't find any human remains.
An investigation into the fire continues.
"We're pleased that the ATF National Response Team was able to assist our local and state partners to bring us to this conclusion," said Special Agent in Charge Terry Henderson, of the St. Paul Field Division. "We will continue to work this case to determine who might be responsible for this fire."
"Receiving confirmation that the fire was deliberately set is extremely disappointing," said Carl Kaeding, president of Kaeding Development Group, the company developing the $68 million hotel and housing project near Xcel Energy Center. "While it is infuriating to think people would choose to burn down a building and endanger innocent lives, I am more saddened for the citizens of this community who will have to deal with the anxiety and fear this type of act may leave behind. The arsonists also delayed opportunities for over 60 community members to get stable jobs at a time when many positions are being cut."
Kaeding added, "We thank the ATF for its thorough job on this investigation, and we're grateful for the St. Paul firefighters who contained the massive fire to one structure while saving others nearby. The bravery of those firefighters, who worked so close to a scorching and dangerously unstable structure, is something we should never take for granted."
Doran Companies, the general contractor for the project, issued the following statement:
"We appreciate the ATF's swift and thorough work and our subcontractors who aided in the investigation. We are extremely disappointed to learn that the fire was set intentionally." said Anne Behrendt, President and CEO off Doran companies. "This destructive act is a considerable setback to a project that was moving the economy forward and supporting construction workers during this time of economic uncertainty. We are deeply invested in the future of our community and look forward to getting our team of talented problem solvers and construction workers back to work."
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