Fire marshal: Arson cause of fire near Front Royal store

The Front Royal Police Department responded to a small fire outside of Andrick’s Gifts and Collectibles, at 21 W. 6th St., at 11:33 p.m. Saturday after a nearby Front Royal patrol unit noticed a “Trump for president” flag on fire in front of the store near a handicapped ramp.

Gerry Maiatico, fire marshal for Warren County Fire and Rescue said the responding officer was able to put out the blaze using a hand-held fire extinguisher. Fire personnel arrived and determined the fire was fully extinguished.

Maiatico said that he and his department have determined that it was a case of arson, explaining that “combustible materials” were gathered from in front of the store, placed under the flag and intentionally lit.

“(The materials) included a cardboard box and some other materials,” Maiatico said.

He also noted that residential apartments above the storefront were undamaged, thanks to the Front Royal patrol units. The storefront itself was also unscathed.

“Due to the quick actions of the patrol unit recognizing the situation, they were able to control the fire and prevent it from spreading to any other materials,” Maiatico said.

The investigation is ongoing and Maiatico said he hopes people understand the potential disasters that could come about as the result of such actions.

“This is a very passionate election year and acting out in this type of manner poses a threat to the community,” he said. “We want to curb this and convey the seriousness of this action. It is an arson incident. Had a patrol unit not been in the area, this could have quickly spread to nearby combustible material nearby and could’ve grown much larger, much faster and could’ve posed a threat to any occupants above the storefront.”

The Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Front Royal Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division are asking anyone who may have information to contact them. The Fire Marshal’s Office can be reached at 540-636-3830 and Detective David Fogle of the police department can be reached at 540-636-2208.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com