Thursday, March 08, 2001

Sweeper worth $100K among arson damage




By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A $100,000 street sweeper, on loan to the city until its new sweeper arrives, was one of three vehicles destroyed in an arson fire at the city garage that is still being investigated.

        The fire occurred last Saturday night inside the old metal building near Newport High School that has been the city's maintenance vehicle garage for many years.

        “An accelerant was used to start the fire,” Fire Chief Larry Atwell said Wednesday.“It was definitely arson. The interior of the street sweeper was totally destroyed, and it would take some sort of flammable liquid to create that kind of heat in a short period of time.”

        Police Chief Tom Fromme said his department is interviewing a number of people who might have had access to the structure. Police Sgt. Jerry Roy is leading the investigation, which includes checking the tapes from the security cameras at the high school, which is about 100 yards from the garage.

        Also heavily damaged in the weekend fire was a car used by undercover Newport police officers for drug enforcement and other investigation activities, and a maintenance tractor.

        The street sweeper, which reportedly had only about 800 miles on the odometer, was on loan to the city by the manufacturer while a similar model was being prepared for delivery in a few weeks.

        City commissioners approved the expenditure for the street sweeper several weeks ago. The old sweeper was in disrepair and parts were no longer available. Ironically, the old sweeper was not damaged in the fire.

        The garage, which for a number of years has been on the list of city structures to be replaced, was only slightly damaged by the fire.

       



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