Federal authorities are offering a $5,000 reward for information about destructive fire at a Lyndale Avenue South apartment building at the weekend.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced the reward in collaboration with state and local officials Wednesday, after a fire at the condemned building at 2312 Lyndale Ave. S. caused around $1.8 million in damage.
The ATF's National Response Team has been called in to assist the investigation, and in its Wednesday update it said "scene investigators are meticulously working to uncover evidence and to determine the origin and cause of the blaze."
It's also calling for any information from members of the public to help "move the case along more quickly."
The building was reportedly being used by squatters at the time of the fire.
"While we have additional specialized National Response Team personnel present here in Minneapolis, we’re going to leverage that advantage by offering a reward now, before a final determination on the origin and cause of the fire is made," said Special Agent in Charge William McCrary, of the St. Paul Field Division.
"Offering this reward does not mean that any determination as to the cause of the fire has been made. The team is looking at multiple possibilities, and the possibility of accidental, or intentional causes has not been ruled out."
The building is owned by Twin Cities landlord C. David George, another of whose vacant buildings – in Loring Park – was damaged in a fire in September, and was also being used by squatters at the time.
Southwest Voices wrote an extensive profile of George that included interviews with former tenants of 2312 Lyndale Ave. S. prior to it being condemned in October, who raised a number of issues with its maintenance and condition.
Following Saturday's fire, local residents told FOX 9 there had been a number of break-ins – likely from those seeking shelter – and fires at the building in recent months.