Preliminary report: Arson not found

Friday, March 4, 2011

A state arson investigator says the fire at Joe's Body Shop was "accidental," but the proprietor says his insurance company's investigator isn't so sure.

The business on Fayetteville Highway burned before dawn on Sunday and Joe French says if he's to continue his business, he'll have to relocate because his building isn't suitable anymore.

Sheriff's Detective Bob Johnson waited until Tuesday after state Bomb and Arson Unit Agent Russell Robinson examined the fire scene and issued his preliminary conclusion.

"It's accidental," Johnson said, relating Robinson's preliminary report. "It was an accidental electrical fire that started in the office."

Belfast Fire Department responded to the call, as did Deputy Matt Owens.

"My insurance company sent their arson investigator today," French said Wednesday evening. "He found stuff that he bagged, so I don't know. It's still of a suspicious nature to him. If he gets some results that supports that, then he'll turn that over to the state."

The fire resulted in no personal injury, although French estimates his loss of tools at $40,000. His shop truck burned, but customer vehicles weren't damaged.

He was unsure of the loss from building damage.