'It may have been intentional': Police say Junction City fire draws suspicions
JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - An early morning structure fire in Junction City is now a possible crime scene, and now police are calling the fire suspicious after an explosion came from a vacant building around 1:30 a.m. on Monday.
Nobody was hurt during the fire. Highway 99 reopened around 5 p.m. for the first time since 1 a.m.
Police brought the bomb squad earlier on Monday as a precaution, but the fire is contained, leaving only questions behind.
Neighbors are asking if it's a hate crime after seeing a swastika and the N-word spray-painted on the back of this vacant building.
"Nobody's been there during the day, just mostly at night," said Darla Darcy, a neighbor to the building. "I don't know, it's been kind of suspicious to me what's been going on there."
Police don't know how long the graffiti has been on the building, or if it's even tied to the fire. The building is empty, and police say that the owners were going to open it as a restaurant.
"There has been no contact with the business owner," said Chief Robert Morris, with the Junction City Police. "We're attempting to reach out to that person right now."
We do know that a large explosion came from the building early on Monday morning, spraying debris across Highway 99. Even a window was blown about 20 yards from the building.
"There are some suspicious items in there that lead us to believe that this may not have been an accidental fire," said Morris. "And in fact, it may have been intentional."
However, police are still uncertain about the motives behind the fire.
"We're trying to determine right now the exact cause of the fire, which will then lead us maybe down some other roads that we can look at," said Morris.
No other buildings were affected by the fire, but the investigation is ongoing.