Officials suspect arson in fire that destroyed car

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | 1:21 p.m. CDT; updated 3:35 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — A 1999 Toyota Corolla was destroyed in a fire outside an apartment complex on Brown Station Road early Monday morning in what the Columbia Fire Department believes is an act of arson, according to a news release. A 928 Porsche parked beside the car was scorched.

“I’ll just say at this point that we were able to rule out unintentional causes or accidental causes of the fire,” Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said.

The Fire Department was called to put out a vehicle fire around 1 a.m. Monday at 3807 Brown Station Road, according to a news release. Witnesses, including law enforcement officers, reported a “small ‘explosion’ during the fire,” the release stated. But officials said they found no evidence of explosives, and linked the explosion to tires failing or ignited gasoline.

Firefighters and investigators cleared the scene around 4:30 a.m.

Sapp said no criminal charges have been filed, and the Fire Marshal’s Division has asked the Fire Department’s Major Crimes Unit to help investigate the fire.

Anyone with any information or who saw anything suspicious is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 573-875-TIPS, or the ARSON HOT LINE at 800-39-ARSON. Anyone who provides Hot line information leading to an arrest could receive up to $5,000 in reward.

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