Authorities investigating what they are calling a “suspicious” fire at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern Inn Tuesday morning.
At approximately 2:29 a.m., local fire departments were dispatched to the 100 block of Waller Street for a brush fire that was threatening the building, according to a news release from the city of Williamsburg.
Units arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and extinguished an exterior fire that was threatening the building within 15 minutes.
The city’s Community Risk Reduction team is investigating.
The Williamsburg Police Department at 9 a.m. posted to Facebook about the incident and asked for assistance from the public regarding information about any suspicious activity or any social media posts that mention Colonial Williamsburg.
It’s unclear what suspicious activity to which the department is referring.
Williamsburg Police Chief Sean Dunn said he wasn’t certain exactly what information about the incident had been released and that he “might’ve” seen the department’s post.
Dunn said while the police department worked with the Williamsburg Fire Department on the incident, Deputy Fire Chief Larry Snyder would have information about the investigation.
Snyder said the fire damaged the building’s siding, leaving it charred. When they sent out the news release earlier Tuesday, the department was still early in its investigation before they determined the fire was suspicious.
“We’re trying to determine the cause,” he said, adding the department is not using the term arson at this time.
“It didn’t have any normal ignition source,” he noted. “We were early in the investigation, we obviously had some thoughts on our initial preliminary review of what was going on.”
Another reason they considered the fire suspicious is because brush fires in Williamsburg aren’t common, he said.
Snyder said the department was working police and Colonial Williamsburg on the investigation.
When asked how the fire department will coordinate updates in conjunction with police and Colonial Williamsburg, Snyder said the police department will post information about the investigation side, the fire department will post information about the fire and Colonial Williamsburg will provide updates about their operations.
Snyder said while he was at fire scene Tuesday morning, he was not sure if the department had received any tips about the suspicious fire.
It remains unclear why the three entities planned on issuing three different news releases instead of centralizing the information from one source.
In its news release, Colonial Williamsburg, who owns the structure, said the foundation’s public safety team is working with police and fire officials during the investigation. Additionally, Colonial Williamsburg said enhanced safety and security measures added throughout the foundation protected the community and limited the fire’s impact.
Dunn was not immediately available for further comment.
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