Arson determined in St. Paul hotel construction site fire

Investigators determined the fire that destroyed a St. Paul hotel construction site was intentionally set, according to an update Tuesday from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The fire broke out at the five-story site on the morning of August 4. By the time crews arrived, the flames had grown so much, firefighters could only battle the fire from the outside. The intensity of the fire also broke windows on the Dorothy Day Residence to the north and melted the X on the Xcel Energy Center’s sign to the east.

After reviewing video and speaking with witnesses, authorities determined the fire as arson. An investigation is ongoing.

"Receiving confirmation that the fire was deliberately set is extremely disappointing," said Carl Kaeding, president of Kaeding Development Group, the company developing the $68 million hotel and housing project, in a statement. "While it is infuriating to think people would choose to burn down a building and endanger innocent lives, I am more saddened for the citizens of this community who will have to deal with the anxiety and fear this type of act may leave behind. The arsonists also delayed opportunities for over 60 community members to get stable jobs at a time when many positions are being cut."

“We appreciate the ATF’s swift and thorough work and our subcontractors who aided in the investigation. We are extremely disappointed to learn that the fire was set intentionally.” said Anne Behrendt, President and CEO of Doran companies, which is the general contractor on the site. “This destructive act is a considerable setback to a project that was moving the economy forward and supporting construction workers during this time of economic uncertainty. We are deeply invested in the future of our community and look forward to getting our team of talented problem solvers and construction workers back to work.”

Officials used cadaver dogs to search the site for possible victims, but after four days of searching, no human remains were found.