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ATF: Massive Indy Fire Intentionally Set

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Tuesday that a massive blaze that gutted an under-construction, upscale apartment complex in downtown Indianapolis last week was intentionally set.

The March 12 fire destroyed the Cosmopolitan on the Canal apartment complex adjacent to the canal downtown, a $28 million building that was set to open in May, including retail shops.
ATF: Massive Indy Fire Intentionally Set
Feds Release Few Details Of Arson Investigation

March 18, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Tuesday that a massive blaze that gutted an under-construction, upscale apartment complex in downtown Indianapolis last week was intentionally set.

The March 12 fire destroyed the Cosmopolitan on the Canal apartment complex adjacent to the canal downtown, a $28 million building that was set to open in May, including retail shops.

The ATF, in conjunction with the Indiana fire marshal, Indianapolis Fire Department and Indianapolis Police Department, made the announcement early Tuesday afternoon.

Few details were released, but officials said a criminal investigation is ongoing.

"I'm not going to get into any specifics. I can tell you that the investigators on the scene methodically went through the scene, layer by layer, reviewing the items that they found and what they were looking at. And based on what they saw, they came to this conclusion," said ATF spokeswoman Kimberly Riddell.

Investigators said they have taken numerous pictures, recovered possible evidence and conducted more than 50 interviews over several days.

"The evidence will be analyzed by the ATF National Laboratory," said ATF Special Agent Christopher Sadowski, in a news release.

Twenty federal investigators dug through the rubble on Saturday and Sunday and brought in a specialized K-9 to help sniff out the fire's cause.

The project's developers were at Tuesday afternoon's news conference and said they would continue to assist in the investigation.

"You know, we cooperated fully and tried to help them get any equipment they needed in there. We moved stuff around. They did a nice job," said Jerry Collins of Flaherty and Collins Developer.

The blaze scarred an otherwise picturesque landscape on the canal. The complex was going to have 210 apartments, with monthly rent at between $1,200 and $2,500.

Developers said they think parts of the complex can be salvaged, including a facade along Senate Street and Michigan Avenue, the parking garage and retail space.

"As far as the person that actually did this, what I probably would want to say to them is probably not worth repeating here," said David Collins, of Flaherty and Collins.

A reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest. Officials asked anyone with information to call 888-283-3743 or Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.