New clue in Phoenix senior center arson case; Silent Witness asks for tips

- The fire was massive, destroying a senior center that was under construction in Phoenix and investigators say this was no accident -- it was the work of arsonists.

On Tuesday, Silent Witness released surveillance video that they hope generates some new leads.

The construction was at the halfway point when arsonists struck about three weeks ago. There was millions of dollars of damage here and to the condominium complex which was only about 100 feet away.

During the early morning hours of Saturday, March 18, the senior living center near 23rd Avenue and Northern exploded into an inferno that could be seen on Arizona Department of Transportation cameras over a mile away. The fire, deliberately set, not only destroyed the center, but damaged several neighboring condos.

"Very intense and scary," said Gerald Longhi, who lives in the complex. He could feel the heat.

In the surveillance video, officials say it's another clue that could lead to the arsonists: footage of the people who may have set the fire. Two people with what appear to be backpacks walk onto the construction site at about 2:45 a.m. Moments later, the fire erupts. The video is poor quality, but investigators are hopeful.

"Our experience shows people who commit crimes of this nature after they commit them, they talk about them. Somebody out there knows," said Sgt. Tom Britt.

Captain Troy Caskey added, "Very fortunate because this was a big fire and very close to those condos, so we're very fortunate nothing serious happened."

At the complex on Tuesday, signs remain of just how close last month's senior center fire was. The intense heat blew out windows on some units and even melted patio furniture.

If you have any information about this case, call Silent Witness.  You can remain anonymous and receive a cash award for tips leading to an arrest or indictment.


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