BURLEY — The state fire marshal said Jan. 31 that a person deliberately set a fire that destroyed a vacant building on the west side of the 1200 block of Overland on Jan. 29 and caused a total loss from water and smoke damage to the building south of it.
“I’ll just say that a person had gone to some effort to make sure the building burned,” said Verl Jarvie, deputy investigator for the state fire marshal.
A pipe bomb was also found across the street in the door knocker of a new, unopened restaurant.
The Cassia County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday no arrests have been made. The fire and pipe bomb are being investigated as one case. A pickup that was wanted in connection with the incidents was recovered by the sheriff’s office on Tuesday but police are staying mum on who it belonged to or where it was discovered.
The building that burned and the restaurant are owned by Brek Pilling and his business partner Brian Tibbets. A voicemail left on Pilling’s cellphone remained unanswered Wednesday. Pilling and Tibbets also own the restaurant and the building next door to the building destroyed by fire.
Jarvie said some sort of fire accelerant was used and it was found throughout the building. Rags and papers were used to light the fire inside the building. The type of accelerant used is unknown and samples have been sent to a lab for testing, he said. Jarvie said he suspects the fire was started in the middle of the building because that part sustained the greatest damage.
The floor and roof has collapsed in the middle of the building, he said. The building is unsafe and should be taken down as soon as it is condemned.
Firefighters helped take some of the interior structure out of the building and now piles of debris lay heaped in the parking lane in front of it surrounded by police tape.
“Is someone going to come clean that up, or am I supposed to do it?” Noel Santana asked as he looked around the edge of his building toward the rubble on Wednesday.
Santana owns a building under renovation that will include office space and two upstairs apartments a couple of doors south of the burned building.
Santana said his building was not harmed except for a small place on his roof that was damaged by the firemen’s high-pressure hose and a window that was broken out by firemen so they could determine if there was any smoke or flames in his building.
“I’m not sure what to think about it,” Santana said. “I know that there are too many rumors flying around about it, and I wish they would make an arrest.”
Santana said he is concerned that someone walking near the cordoned off area could be hit by a falling brick.
Across the street next to the restaurant at Corporate Image, owner Shari Hodge said she is concerned that no arrests have been made.
“If that pipe bomb had went off it would have really affected us,” Hodge said.
When she tried to come to work on Monday morning the sheriff deputies “were flat out rude to me,” she said.
“They told me don’t plan on working today. I was just trying to figure out what was going on, “Hodge said. “They didn’t tell me about the pipe bomb that was next to my building. If someone is really out for them there could be another one.”
But Undersheriff George Warrell said he doesn’t believe the public is in danger. Warrell said there is always a concern that another incident could occur, and there are no guarantees.
“But, from what I’m looking at right now there is nothing that leads me to believe that there would be more at this point,” he said.
Warrell would not say if the office has a suspect in mind.
“We are looking at all the avenues, and there are a lot of agencies involved,” he said.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is helping with the case along with the state fire marshal.
All the businesses in the area that were closed on Monday sustained some loss, Hodge said.
“I worry every day when I come in that I’ll find my business taped off or destroyed,” she said.
At the least, she said, the mess across the street is “an eyesore.”