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No evidence of arson so far in Alms House investigation

By Joe Beck

Almost two months of investigation have turned up no evidence that the fire that destroyed the Alms House on April 13 was caused by arson but the cause of the blaze remains undetermined, the Shenandoah County Fire Marshal said Tuesday.

David Ferguson said the investigation is continuing but it may be a while before he is ready to announce any firm conclusions.

"At this point, I don't have any information that points to a set fire," Ferguson said, adding, "I don't want to make any rash calls on the determination of the fire."

The early investigation into the Mauertown fire was delayed by the precarious condition of parts of the structure that remained standing and threatened to topple over onto anyone who ventured onto the rubble.

Ferguson said he was able to gain access to the debris and sift it for clues once work crews had leveled the remnants of the building.

"I've been able to get in there and review and look at it and analyze it," Ferguson said. "Now it's more document processing and getting all the information I need to go through individuals' past history."

Ferguson said he is still interviewing anyone who could have been a witness to the fire and former residents of the Alms House. He said he is especially interested in information about any problems in the building that would link the fire to an accident or criminal activity.

"It's a lot of fact finding that needs to be collected," Ferguson said.

Anyone with information about the fire can call Ferguson at 459-6177.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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