Indiana Daily Student

Possible arson at Republican headquarters

A fire at the Monroe County Republican headquarters Saturday is being investigated as an arson. \nScott Smith, chief fire inspector for the Bloomington Fire Department, said as of Saturday there were no suspects in the case.\nAt about 5:10 a.m., Martin Poteat, a Bloomington resident, said he drove by the headquarters at 644 N. Morton St. on the way to breakfast at Waffle House. Poteat, with his brother Tim and friend John West, also a Bloomington resident, noticed a small fire burning outside the southwest corner of the building. They called 911 and fought the fire with personal extinguishers until fire fighters arrived, he said. \nPoteat said he did not see anyone in the area.\nThe blaze looked like it had been set just 10 to 15 minutes before they arrived, he said.\n"If we were another 10 minutes later the building would have been gone," he said.\nOnly the exterior of the building was damaged, and portions of siding were removed, according to a press release. The building is useable, despite the fire.\nAn accelerant was detected on the outside of the structure, and samples have been sent to the State Police lab for processing.\nMonroe County Republican Party chairman Pat Salzmann said although it was the party's headquarters, the true victim is the owner of the property.\n"The whole escalation of the violence is just unacceptable," she said. "I can't understand the mentality of somebody that would do things like this."\nCounty councilman Jeff Ellington, the Republican incumbent, is also a firefighter at the Bloomington Fire Department. He said the case illustrates how activism has intensified in Monroe County.\n"These are politically extreme actions," he said. "Terrorists ' there's no other word for it.\nThey've infiltrated our communities and our public offices and it's time for this sort of negative-type reaction to stop."\nJunior Anne Scuffham, president of IU College Republicans, said this act makes her fearful for her own safety because she is actively involved in local politics.\n"The fact that they ruled it as arson really scares me," she said. "This is just so early in the season, we have eight more weeks to go and I hope it's not going to get worse"

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