Search for person responsible for Fox Theatre fire expands as new leads surface

February 01, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

Fire and police investigators are following tips they hope will lead them to who started a Jan. 24 fire that destroyed the historic Fox Theatre in downtown El Centro.

El Centro fire investigators determined the blaze that consumed the Fox and two adjoining buildings started after a match was set to a pile of rags and paper in a storage area in the abandoned theater at Seventh Street between Main and State streets.

El Centro Fire Chief Charles Beard said investigators found new leads Wednesday, but he declined to comment on the nature of the leads. He said those tips are being looked into.

When asked if the fire could have been started by transients living in the building, Beard said that is part of the investigation and declined to say if that was one scenario being considered as the cause.


El Centro police Sgt. Mike Crankshaw also declined to comment on whether investigators were focusing on that possibility.

Crankshaw said police investigators this week also received a tip they were tracking as of Wednesday.

Both Beard and Crankshaw said Fire Department arson investigators and police investigators are working together on this case.

"Hopefully in the next day or two we'll either exhaust all leads or have an arrest," Crankshaw said.

Neither flammable liquids nor accelerants were found at the fire's point of origin. However, a moderate quantity of combustible material was used to fuel the fire, El Centro Fire Marshal Linual White said last week.

Staff Writer Marcy Misner can be reached at 337-3441.

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