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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Contact: Ashlee J. L. Sherrill

St. Paul Hotel Fire Determined Intentionally Set

ST. PAUL, Minn. —   The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the St. Paul Fire Department, St. Paul Police Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division, today made a final determination that the downtown St. Paul hotel construction site, destroyed on August 4, 2020, was a result of an intentionally set fire.

After investigating the scene, reviewing video footage and talking to numerous witnesses, fire investigation experts ruled the fire to be incendiary, or intentionally set. Investigators continue to work the case as it develops further.  

Concerns about possible victims resulted in the use of cadaver dogs, trained to detect human remains; heavy equipment, to assist with searches by delayering the building; and working with local shelters to account for missing persons. After four days of extensive searches, no human remains were found and no persons were unaccounted for. 

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

The ATF National Response Team joined the investigation last Thursday after the St. Paul Fire Department and the local ATF field division requested additional support due to the scope of the investigation. The team wrapped up their portion of the investigation today and will give their findings to the local ATF office and partner agencies to continue following up on leads.

“We are immensely grateful for the hard work and collective effort of our partners,” Henderson continued. “After the NRT activation to St. Paul earlier this summer and with this activation, we’ve built a great working relationship and commend everyone for their dedication to justice.”

ATF is investigating this case alongside the St. Paul Fire Department, St. Paul Police Department, and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division in coordination with the U.S. Attorneys Office, District of Minnesota.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. More information about ATF and its programs is available at Follow @ATFHQ and @ATFStPaul on Twitter for news and updates.


St. Paul Field Division