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Blaze that damaged almost complete, $13-million Chesterfield library ruled arson

Posted at 12:44 PM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 13:19:52-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va. – A library fire so intense the shooting flames blew out windows in the building has been ruled an arson.

The blaze ignited late on a weekend, around 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the new Chesterfield  County library on Courthouse Road.

Chesterfield Fire and EMS spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore said culvert pipes behind the building were ablaze when they arrived and that the fire had spread to nearby mulch.

Now investigators said someone intentionally set fire to the drainage pipes.

One witness said she heard someone running through the woods shortly after the fire started.

The blaze's intense heat broke out windows in the building and damaged a light in the parking lot. Flames were seen shooting higher than the building.

County officials had stopped work on the library in October because an estimate for furniture, fixtures and equipment came over budget by more than $100,000.

The $13 million library was about 80 percent complete when it was torched.

Leaders had planned to open it in late December or early January.

There is no word on what its fate will be. It was heavily damaged due to heat exposure.

Crime Solvers, Chesterfield County Fire and EMS, and police are now turning to the public for assistance in solving this case. Due to the value of the damage sustained to the library and its grounds, an anonymous tipster could receive a significant case reward for information helpful in resolving this incident.

For more information on this case, please visit the Chesterfield County/Colonial Heights Crime Solvers website, www.crimesolvers.net, and click on the "Crime of the Week" link.

If you have information about this or any unsolved crime or fugitive in Chesterfield County or the city of Colonial Heights, submit a tip anonymously through Crime Solvers: Call (804) 748-0660, click crimesolvers.net or text "274637" and start your tip with the keyword "WATSON." If your tip helps law enforcement, you could receive a cash reward!