Saturday, March 29, 2003

Investigators say fire not a hate crime

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - State fire investigators and federal agents are looking into a blaze Thursday at a Middle Eastern grocery store near the intersection of Cincinnati-Dayton and Tylersville roads, but said Friday they do not believe it was a hate crime.

The 8:30 a.m. fire at Al Noor Market, 7835 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, does not appear to be suspicious, but the cause is not known, West Chester Township Assistant Fire Chief Mike Mays said.

The store is closed until further notice. Damage was set at $100,000 because nearly all the food items in the store either melted or must be discarded because of heat and smoke damage, Mays said.

Because the owner is an Iraq native, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been called in to investigate as a courtesy, but there is nothing to indicate the fire was set purposely or has any connection to the war, Mays said.

No one was in the store at the time of the blaze, which began in the back of the structure. Firefighters saw no signs of forced entry.

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