After running down “dozens and dozens” of leads that turned up no answers, authorities announced Thursday that they are offering a $5,000 reward for information about the person who set the fire that destroyed a building in downtown Hailey last month.
The reward will go to whoever can provide “information leading to the arrest of the individual responsible” for the blaze that claimed the Croy Street Exchange building on March 16, Idaho State Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl told reporters Thursday.
“We have developed literally dozens and dozens of leads” since the fire, Sandahl said. “They have all been followed up on and none proved to be fruitful. We are at a roadblock right now, and that’s why we need the public’s help with this.”
The Fire Marshal’s Office is leading the investigation, along with federal fire investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. If found, the person responsible could face charges at both the state and federal level, Sandahl said.
Investigators were able to view some video footage of the incident from nearby security cameras, according to Sandahl, but the leads that came from that footage didn’t produce any answers.
“This is a difficult investigation, particularly when you don’t have key eyewitnesses,” he said.
The commercial building at the corner of River and Croy streets, which was slated to become workforce housing, went up in flames in the early morning of March 16. It was empty at the time. The building had housed roughly half a dozen tenants as of last November, according to co-owner Michelle Stennett, a state senator from Ketchum, but tenants were instructed in a letter dated Dec. 31 to vacate the property by Jan. 30. Architectural renderings would have been presented to the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission in a design-review hearing on April 5.
Crews from the Hailey Fire Department, Bellevue Fire Department and Wood River Fire and Rescue were called to the blaze shortly after 5 a.m. the morning of the fire, as the Idaho Mountain Express previously reported. At 5:15 a.m., Hailey Fire Chief Mike Baledge established command of the incident. A minute later, Wood River Engine 611 began fighting the fire at the northwest corner of the building. But by 5:20 a.m., a portion of the structure had collapsed—and by the morning commute that day, it had been reduced to rubble.
“Fires like these are really devastating,” Baledge told reporters Thursday. “We need to find the person that did this and make sure they’re not in a position where they can harm other people and harm other businesses.”
Investigators are asking anybody with information on the fire to call the state’s arson hotline at 1-877-75-ARSON.