PHOENIX - FOX 10 has learned that Phoenix Fire officials are labeling a fire that damaged the Arizona Democratic Party headquarters in Phoenix as an act of arson.
The Phoenix Fire Department says the fire broke out at about 1 a.m. on July 24 near Central and Thomas. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found heavy smoke inside the building and determined no one was inside. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire.
Nobody was hurt, but the blaze destroyed the part of the building housing the county Democratic offices, including computers, tablets, phone-banking equipment and years of candidate and organizing information, county Chair Steven Slugocki said in an email to supporters.
According to sources, fire officials are treating this as an act of arson based on video evidence. The video was not released to the public as of July 24.
“I have not seen the video but I’ve been told that it clearly shows arson," said Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini.
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes spoke to FOX 10's Anita Roman at the scene.
"A lot of hard work is encompassed in this place," he said. "You've got volunteers and staff who have been popping in and out of here on various schedules to exchange information. We've got data on hard drives, we've got some data that's not on hard drives, we've got campaign materials... this is really the hub of the Democratic Party's headquarters."'
State, County Democratic Party officials speak out
On July 24, various people involved with the Democratic Party in Arizona, as well as in Maricopa County, spoke out about the fire.
"Yeah it hurts. I’ve been working in this building for 12 years. I’ve met my wife in this building," said Steven Slugocji, Chairman of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.
Rotellini says threats and vandalism are nothing new for them, and insist the incident will backfire in the end.
"Right now, what it is doing, regardless of who did it and for what reason, is building a coalition that’s going to be more powerful than ever," said Rotellini.
Earlier on July 24, Rotellini issued a statement to FOX 10 on the fire.
"We’re grateful for the response of the Phoenix Fire and Police Departments who are both still on the scene as we sort out what happened. We are relieved that no one was injured.
"The fire is devastating but we refuse to let this be a distraction. We feel more empowered than ever to turn Arizona blue.
"Our eyes remain on the prize of electing Democrats who will put Arizonans first. Thank you to all who have sent their love and support and have reached out to help.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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