PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say a fire that destroyed part of the Arizona and Maricopa County Democratic Party headquarters Friday may have been arson.
Phoenix police said they are treating the incident as an arson investigation based on evidence collected at the scene by police, firefighters and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. Police did not describe the evidence but said more information should be available in the coming days.
Firefighters got first word of the blaze about 1 a.m. Nobody was hurt, but the fire destroyed the part of the building housing the county Democratic offices, including computers, tablets, phone-banking equipment, campaign literature and years of candidate and organizing information, county Chair Steven Slugocki said. It also destroyed political memorabilia accumulated over decades, including campaign materials for John F. Kennedy, he said.
“The Democratic Party in Arizona is pretty small. We’re a small group family,” Slugocki said. “Everything has come out of that building. Elected officials. All meetings. Everything goes through that office. At some point, every Democrat has been through that building. It’s gone.”
Slugocki and state Democratic Chair Felecia Rotellini said employees have been mostly working remotely since March.
“We want to know why this happened, and it is something that is simply going to empower us to work harder and keep our eyes on the prize,” Rotellini said. “We’re definitely not going to let this be a distraction from working as hard as we can to turn Arizona blue in November.”
The Phoenix Fire Department says smoke was first reported about 1 a.m.