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The Advocate and Democrat.

State report expected soon on Sweetwater fire

Published: 8:30 AM, 07/19/2010 Last updated: 8:40 AM, 07/19/2010

Author: Tommy Millsaps
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

SWEETWATER - Fire Chief Doug Watson expects an official report from state arson investigators on the fire that destroyed a landmark factory building on July 3 relatively soon.

The building went up in flames just after the city's Independence Day fireworks show ended and the general speculation among many people has been that fireworks landed on top of the building causing the fire, but what will the official state report conclude?

After talking with state arson investigators, Watson feels he has a pretty good idea what the report will say. The Sweetwater fire chief said four state bomb and arson investigators looked over the site.

"They are more than likely going to rule it was an accidental fire," Watson said. That finding would rule out arson, but leaves the question of what caused the accident.

"They can't rule out fireworks (causing the fire)," Watson said.

According to the fire chief, investigators took statements from witnesses who said they saw fireworks land on top of the building. Watson showed a Google Earth photo taken of the building sometime before the fire and a plausible scenario is that fireworks could have gone through a hole in the roof on the east side and landed inside the building.

But Watson also said it's likely that there will never be a 100 percent conclusion that the fireworks caused the fire.

"There's not anybody going to be able to do that," he said.

Firemen from numerous fire departments joined the Sweetwater Fire Department battling the blaze and many credited them with saving much of the old downtown.

Firefighters poured almost a million gallons of water on the fire, Watson said. | 337-7101

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