Probe of Texas gov. mansion fire to focus on video
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas fire officials brought in canine teams and a national arson investigation unit Monday to search for exactly how and where a devastating fire started inside the governor's mansion.
They also interviewed more witnesses and viewed dozens of hours of video surveillance that helped them initially determine the weekend blaze was intentionally set, said state Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado.
"We're very confident we're going to find the perpetrator that has caused the damage and that has committed this crime," Maldonado said.
The fire erupted at the 152-year-old mansion shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday and severely damaged the building, even as Texas Department of Public Safety troopers guarded the premises. Parts of the roof buckled and the fire charred much of the front of the white structure and its Greek revival-style columns.
Investigators declined to discuss what the surveillance videos show. They believe one person set the fire, but they haven't ruled out that more people were involved, Maldonado said.
Dog teams will help locate possible accelerants, he said. A federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives team was dispatched to collect and analyze evidence.
Gov. Rick Perry and his wife, Anita, are not living in the mansion. They moved to a private home in Austin last year so the structure could undergo $10 million in renovations, including the installation of a fire sprinkler system.
There was no immediate financial estimate of the damage. All the historic furnishings, paintings and other items had been removed for the renovation.
Investigators said they had no evidence the fire was politically motivated.