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"Vehicle of Interest"

Mill fire probe continues

By Michael Butler

Local, state and federal authorities continue their investigation of the East Tallassee mill fire. Last week, a photo was released identifying a vehicle of interest.

The picture is of a dark colored Sport Utility Vehicle with a mismatched, lighter colored hood. It is believed that the automobile is a Tahoe or Yukon model.

Tallassee Police with the assistance of the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are retracing the time table in which the fire occured. They have accessed cameras including video captured during the period approximate to the time of the fire.

Authorities set up a situation room at City Hall in the days following the fire for interviews as part of the investigation.

Michael Knight, Special Agent with the ATF, spoke about the investigation process. "ATF is working closely with both the private and public sectors to solve this investigation," he said. "ATF and the other law enforcement/fire components (investigative team) continue to create a timeline of the fire incident. The investigative team continues to conduct interviews of individuals directly and indirectly associated with the structure. Interviews will also be sought from businesses in close proximity as well as delivery services or individuals which their route may have passed the area during the time of the fire.

"The detailed work on the scene includes sifting through the debris to make a determination on the origin and cause of the fire. Certified Fire Investigators are using their extensive training in the fire sciences to create a picture of how and where the fire not only began but the resulting spread. The results of the interviews will be coupled with the information obtained from the scene in part to create a timeline of activities. The information gathered will also be entered into ATF’s Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) which provides the capability to determine investigative leads from fires with similar characteristics.

The "Investigative Team" appreciates the public's support in providing information as well as photos/videos to help solve this case. The public is encouraged to continue providing information to law enforcement authorities."

The State Fire Marshal's Office offers the Alabama Arson Hotline for anyone with information that might be helpful in the case at 800-654-0775.

Locals may also contact the Tallassee Police Department at 334-283-6586 or the Secret Witness Hotline at 334-283-3683. Tallassee officer Chris Owenby encourages anyone with pictures or videos to forward them by e-mail: More details are available on the Tallassee Police Department Facebook page.

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