Federal agents rule out arson, any criminal cause of fire

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury PostInvestigators have apparently ruled out arson or any criminal action in the fire that destroyed Salisbury Millwork and killed two Salisbury firefighters.
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have completed their investigation of the massive fire last Friday morning.
“The criminal investigation is completed,” Earl Woodham, public information officer for the federal agency, said Thursday.
Woodham declined to disclose the findings, citing an agreement to coordinate information flow with the city of Salisbury.
A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. today at Salisbury City Hall to provide an update on the investigation, including investigators’ determination of how the fire started.
Federal agents, including ATF’s National Response Team, completed their work and left the site Thursday morning.
Nearly 50 investigators from federal, state and local agencies completed the investigation in six days.
“As horrendous a situation as it was, the scene was not that complicated for us,” Woodham said.
While the criminal investigation ends, Woodham said the regulatory agencies ó the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the N.C. Department of Labor and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health ó will go forward with their investigation.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety becomes involved in major fires, according to Woodham.
A press release federal officials issued shortly after the fire estimated that damage at Salisbury Millwork exceeded $2 million.
A city press release issued Thursday put the estimated “structural damages” at $1.5 million for the approximately 118,000-square-foot structure.nnn
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.