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Fire that destroyed hotel project in St. Paul was arson

The fire happened last week at a construction site across the street from the Xcel Energy Center.
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The massive fire that destroyed a hotel that was under construction in St. Paul last week was set intentionally, federal officials announced Tuesday

The fire, which happened at the construction site of the $69 million St. Paul Gateway project at West 7th Street and Kellogg, across from the Xcel Energy Center, occurred the morning of Aug. 4.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the St. Paul Fire Department, the St. Paul Police Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division reviewed video footage, talked to witnesses and investigated the scene to determine the fire was arson. 

After a four-day search that included cadaver dogs, no human remains were found in the rubble and no one was unaccounted for.

The ATF did not provide any other details.

Kaeding Development Group is behind the St. Paul Gateway project, which includes a Courtyard by Marriott hotel and an apartment complex with 144 rental units. 

The apartment complex was mostly undamaged in the fire, media reports note, and the developer plans to rebuild the hotel, but no timeline has been released. 

The ATF National Response Team was called in to help in the fire investigation. Now that a cause has been determined, the local agencies will continue to investigate and follow up on leads, the release said. 

“We’re pleased that the ATF National Response Team was able to assist our local and state partners to bring us to this conclusion,” Special Agent in Charge Terry Henderson, of the ATF St. Paul Field Division, said in a statement. “We will continue to work this case to determine who might be responsible for this fire.”

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, law enforcement agencies in 2017 reported 41,171 arsons. Of the arsons reported, 45% were structure fires and the average dollar loss per arson was $15,573, 

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