Business caught fire on June 5

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The investigation into a fire at the Party Barn last month is continuing, San Diego Police Department officials said Thursday, after a state fire marshal ruled earlier this week the fire was intentionally set.

Sgt. Javier Gutierrez, an investigator with the San Diego Police Department, said Thursday that Dean Shirley, a chief investigator with the State Fire Marshal's office, had ruled the fire was an arson.

The San Diego Volunteer Fire Department and the Alice Fire Department were called to a report of a fire at the Party Barn shortly after 3:30 p.m. June 5.

The fire was brought under control in minutes, and damage was contained to the interior of the building.

No one was inside the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported from the incident.

A preliminary examination of the site by Gutierrez and Shirley revealed indications of arson, and some material was sent to a state laboratory for testing.

Gutierrez said Thursday the results of that testing revealed an accelerant was used to intentionally start the fire. Although the type of accelerant used has been identified through laboratory analysis, Gutierrez declined to identify the substance because the investigation is ongoing.

Gutierrez said that he expects to continue the investigation with the state fire marshal.

"The next step is we are going to make contact with the owners to see if they know of anyone who may have had motive to start the fire," Gutierrez said. "Right now the investigation is not focusing on any one person."

Gutierrez indicated the owner of the Party Barn is San Diego school board vice president Pete Guerra.