Arson suspected in S’mass spec fire |

Arson suspected in S’mass spec fire

John Colson

It’s an arson investigation now, as responsibility for figuring out the cause of a recent spectacular house fire has been shifted away from the sole jurisdiction of the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Department.

The Snowmass Police Department is now the lead agency in charge of investigating the fire, which destroyed a vacant, recently completed $4.25 million spec home in Snowmass Village on Sept. 26.

At a gathering of local fire and police officials, along with investigators from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, it was concluded that “this fire was of suspicious origin,” according to Snowmass Police Chief Art Smythe.

The meeting, which took place on Sept. 29, was called to go over some of the evidence gathered so far in the wake of the fire.

Smythe said the officials on hand, including a private investigator often used by local police and fire departments in arson cases, looked over the evidence and decided it pointed to “a possible arson” involving “some indications of multiple ignition points.”

Among other evidence, police have taken scrapings from the surfaces of the charred home and have gone over the scene with dogs specially trained to detect “accelerants” that are commonly used to start fires.

“In fires, you have to assume arson until proven otherwise,” Smythe said, adding that the main reason for the conclusion is that, so far, no other reasonable source for the fire has been found.

He predicted that the investigation will take considerable time, adding that the CBI and other agencies will be working together to gather evidence for laboratory analysis and conducting interviews with individuals who were involved in the construction, ownership and planned sale of the home.

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