Labor Day warehouse fire deemed incendiary, not accidental

Labor Day warehouse fire deemed incendiary, not accidental

Updated: 10:34 a.m.

By Erich Wagner (File photo)

City fire officials said Tuesday that the six-alarm blaze that engulfed a West End warehouse and required more than 200 firefighters to put out was incendiary in nature and not accidental and they have identified a person of interest in connection with the incident.

Alexandria Fire Chief Adam Thiel said an investigation conducted along with officials from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ruled out all possible accidental causes for the 800-block S. Pickett St. warehouse fire, which left four firefighters with minor injuries and cost $6 million in damages.

“[In addition to our own investigators] we had more than 25 ATF national response team members and did an exhaustive search of the scene,” Thiel said. “We interviewed witnesses and checked all cameras in the area.”

A person of interest in the case, Thiel said, and that person has been interviewed, but not yet taken into custody. He could not identify that person, but said more details will come out over the course of the investigation and said they are not viewing anybody else as potential suspects.

Thiel said the fire was difficult to subdue for a number of reasons. The sweltering conditions led to some firefighters overexerting themselves, while a water main break temporarily hindered their access to water. He said most, if not all, of the injured fire fighters have fully recovered from their ailments.

Thiel said the incident cannot yet be ruled an arson because arson is a legal term typically tied to criminal charges. He said all evidence has been handed over to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney to determine whether charges should be filed.

Representatives for the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney were not immediately available to comment Tuesday night.

The original story incorrectly identified the warehouse’s neighborhood.