WEST VALLEY CITY — Investigators are seeking the public's help solving a baffling fire that destroyed a telecommunications testing business Sunday, causing millions of dollars in damage.
The West Valley City Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are offering $10,000 "for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible," the agencies said Thursday.
Nemko, at 1940 W. Alexander St. (2420 South), burned to the ground several hours after a brightly burning object slowly descended onto its roof around 9:37 p.m. Saturday, fire officials said. The ATF believes the fire caused about $3 million in damage to expensive equipment, down from an estimate of $11 million earlier this week.
The object was on the roof for about five hours before it ignited a fire that was reported around 2:30 a.m., said ATF spokeswoman Lisa Meiman. The object was spherical in shape, but it's difficult to determine from surveillance exactly how big it was, Meiman said.
The object, which couldn't be found in the fire's wreckage, reportedly showed signs of hitting wind resistance on the way down. Meiman said there aren't any positive indications it was a drone.
"It was definitely an idea that was tossed around, (but) the wind resistance didn’t make us think and didn’t make us conclude (it was a) drone," she said. "We’re not ruling it out, but we really can’t conclusively say right now. It’s just an odd movement for a drone to be making."
Nearby businesses are being asked to review surveillance footage from around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The fire isn't being called arson, but investigators haven't excluded that possibility, according to Meiman.
"It’s all just conjecture at this point, and that’s why we’re appealing to the public," she said.
The blaze was originally reported after an on-call employee received a motion detector alert from inside the building. Most of the business was up in flames by the time West Valley fire crews arrived on scene. The West Valley Fire Department said the business didn't have sprinklers or fire detection equipment.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call ATF investigators at 888-283-3473.