Blazes damage UA property

By Kimberly Miller

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Four fires were reported over the weekend in a neighborhood south of the UA, including one which caused extensive damage to a university-owned building.

Police said the four fires were deliberately set, including a Sunday morning blaze that caused an estimated $40,000 in damages to the University of Arizona Floor Covering Building, 415 N. Mountain Ave.

Alan Lee, the insurance officer for Risk Management, said he is unsure if the damage to the 60-year-old building is repairable.

"One-quarter to one-third of the building has sustained significant damage," Lee said. "Initial estimates put the building right on the border of repair and destruction because repairing a structure is often more expensive than rebuilding."

Although the fire was extinguished within minutes of the fire department's arrival, Lee said because the building has hardwood floors and old plaster the fire did a large amount of damage in little time. He said one room is completely burned out and three others have severe smoke and fire damage.

UA Police and three Tucson Fire Depart-

ment trucks responded to the fire at 3:30 a.m. Sunday. When they arrived, flames were already coming out of the windows on the south side of the building.

The Tucson Electric and Power Company was called in because an active power line fell on a fence behind the building.

After the fire was extinguished, Jeff Corey, an investigator from the Tucson Fire Department, found where the fire was set but was unable to determine what was used to start it. Several cans of water-based paint and some combustible material were found in the room on the south-side of the building.

Corey said he believes the fire was arson because windows in the room where the fire started were broken.

"I don't actually think anyone entered the building to start the fire," Corey said. "All they would have to do is throw something in there. There are no accidental reasons for this fire to start."

Several neighbors in the area told police they heard breaking glass coming from the direction of the Floor Covering Building prior to the fire, but no one reported seeing any suspicious persons in the area near the time of the fire.

A false alarm was pulled right before this fire at an outside pull station at the Old Chemistry Building on the UA campus.

Police are also investigating three other fires set within blocks of the Floor Covering Building late Saturday night.

Palm tree fronds in a trash bin at 212 N. Vine Ave. were set fire at 11:00 p.m.

At 11:30 p.m. a garage was set fire at 330 N. Vine Ave.

A tree fire was reported on 370 N. Highland Ave. at 11:41 p.m.

The only suspect police have for these fires is a man neighbors said they saw circling the area on a bicycle.

Corey said the police believe the four fires are related because of the time frame involved.

"I think they're probably related," Corey said. "Three of them were going on almost simultaneously. I had only been home for a few minutes from the first fire when I get the call for the second."

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