CRESTVIEW — A small fire at the Crestview Chamber of Commerce building has led to a criminal investigation involving both the Crestview Police Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor confirmed Friday that his agency is looking at a possible burglary at the Chamber and the Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting an arson investigation.
Ashley Carr, spokesperson for the State Fire Marshal's Office, confirmed that the fire was intentionally set.
"It was small, only an estimated $200 or so in damages, but we’re looking into it," she said. "Papers were put on a hard floor and set on fire, but thankfully, it was caught quickly before major damage could take place."
A Crestview Police Department report indicates officers answering an alarm call Aug. 27 arrived at the scene to find a back door open and documents burning in the office kitchen.
“Upon my arrival I was met by (redacted) who stated she worked at the Chamber of Commerce and had just left the building,” the report said. "(Redacted) said she had checked the front doors and said they were secure.”
The officer states in his report that he left the employee and found the Chamber’s back door open and “several picture frames had been knocked down in the hallway.”
“I observed what I believed to be documents on the floor in the kitchen to be burning and smoking,” the report said.
After the Crestview Fire Department arrived and put out the fire, the Crestview officer obtained a sworn statement from a Chamber employee whose name was again redacted.
The employee said she was at the Chamber between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and, upon leaving, noticed a truck in the parking lot that she reported to her husband.
After eating with her husband and returning home, the employee said she got a call from the alarm company and decided to meet police on scene, the report said.
During a follow up interview the next day, a Crestview Police officer was told the truck parked outside the day before belonged to someone “setting up for an event at the community center.”
The Chamber employee, whose name was again redacted, said she “may not have locked the rear dead bolt,” though the officer discovered “there was damaged wood by the lock on the rear of the door as if someone had tried to break in.”
The officer also reported checking the woods behind the Chamber building and discovering “a vacant tent and a trash pile in the woods.”
“There was no one in the tent and no items in the tent,” the report said.
The Crestview Police report states that Fire Marshal Det. Ben Pineda arrived at the fire scene at shortly after 2:30 p.m. on the day of the fire and initiated an investigation.