A massive fire that destroyed a Bayou St. John warehouse in April started in the offices of Canal Furniture Liquidators, but investigators said Friday they have been unable to determine what caused the blaze.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the cause will officially go down as “undetermined” following its investigation of the Toulouse Street fire, which destroyed the furniture store and an apparel shop on April 23.
The fire started in the early morning hours and it took 57 firefighters five hours to bring it under control.
No one was injured in the blaze, but it left the owners of Canal Furniture Liquidators and NOLA Till Ya Die with nothing but ashes on the site.
According to a warrant requested by the State Fire Marshal’s Office the following day, investigators looked into a tip received at the scene that the fire may have been started intentionally for financial gain. The findings announced Friday indicated nothing conclusive was ever found.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge William McCrary told WWL-TV that surveillance cameras picked up footage of the curtains in the furniture store office catching fire. But he said that that any electrical equipment that could have provided a clue as to what started the blaze was destroyed and therefore couldn’t be ruled out as a probable cause.
McCrary said the investigation could be reopened if any new information presents itself.
Dana Nichols, the ATF’s local special agent in charge, said investigators inspected physical evidence at the scene, interpreted fire patterns, considered fire dynamics, analyzed video surveillance and interviewed witnesses but were unable to come up with a cause.
The investigation was conducted by the ATF’s National Response Team, the State Fire Marshal's Office, the New Orleans Fire Department, the New Orleans Police Department and agents from the ATF's New Orleans Field Division.