PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A fire ignited at the Arizona Democratic Party headquarters early Friday morning and investigators are treating it as an arson investigation.

When Phoenix fire arrived at the Central Avenue and Thomas Road building, they found heavy smoke coming from the structure. Firefighters quickly entered the building to look for anyone who might be inside and put out the fire.

According to Phoenix Fire, ladder crews were sent to the roof to cut ventilation to help control the fire. Firefighters were able to successfully put out the fire.

Democratic HQ Fire

Nobody got hurt, but the blaze destroyed the part of the building housing the county Democratic offices, including computers, tablets, phone-banking equipment, campaign literature and years of candidate and organizing information, County Chair Steven Slugocki said. It also destroyed political memorabilia accumulated over decades, including campaign materials for John F. Kennedy, he said.

“The Democratic Party in Arizona is pretty small. We’re a small group family,” Slugocki said. “Everything has come out of that building -- elected officials, all meetings. Everything goes through that office. At some point, every Democrat has been through that building. It’s gone.”

Slugocki and state Democratic Chair Felecia Rotellini said employees have been mostly working remotely since March.

“We want to know why this happened, and it is something that is simply going to empower us to work harder and keep our eyes on the prize,” Rotellini said. “We’re definitely not going to let this be a distraction from working as hard as we can to turn Arizona blue in November.”

Fire investigators said later on Friday somebody intentionally set the building on fire and it's now a criminal investigation. Police said they're looking at surveillance cameras in the area.

"Our team is still in shock. Knowing that this fire was set deliberately is disturbing news, but I am relieved that no one was injured," Slugocki later said in a statement. "I have been inside the office and it is unrecognizable. While the rest of the building has some water and smoke damage, the entire contents of our side of the building is a total loss. In addition to office furniture and supplies, all of the technology within the office including laptops, tablets, monitors, and other technology have been destroyed."

Republican Party of Arizona Chairwoman Kelli Ward also released a statement regarding the fire at the Democratic Party HQ. She called the alleged arson an "act of cowardice."

"Violence of any kind is unacceptable. Any person committing an act of violence, especially politically motivated violence, against any individual, party, or group in Arizona must be held accountable and prosecuted to the maximum extent of our laws," said Ward. "Arizona Republicans look forward to meeting the Democrats on Election Day as opponents on the field of ideas. Arizona's political leaders should take this opportunity to remind Arizonans of all backgrounds that while we may have differences on political issues and policy, ultimately we are all Americans and must treat each other as such.”

"We do have some good video. We do have some good information," said Sgt. Mercedes Fortune with the Phoenix Police Department. She wouldn't elaborate on any of the details and said it was an ongoing investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Phoenix Police Department or call Silent Witness at either 480-WITNESS (948-6377) or 1-800-343-TIPS (8477). Spanish speakers may call 480-TESTIGO (837-8446). (Click or tap phone number to call from this story on your mobile device.)

 

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