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Arson named cause in Carter Brothers fire

State and federal investigators have determined arson the cause of a fire that destroyed Hamilton Crossroad’s Carter Brothers Manufacturing last Monday.

“Results wrapped up (Monday) morning with an out briefing of team members, and it was concluded the fire was of incendiary origin, which means the crime of arson has been committed,” said State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk.

The investigation, led by the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, began Wednesday last week after Carter Brothers caught fire in the early morning hours of July 12 and destroyed the structure’s warehouse.

Now, Paulk said an investigation will continue in seeking the “person or persons” responsible for the crime. The investigation will continue to be led by these two agencies.

Paulk said the agencies currently have no specific suspects or any indication of whether the fire was started by multiple individuals or one working alone.

The agencies were on scene for the investigation the day the fire started, but Paulk said the team was unable to begin inspection officially until Wednesday when the building had cooled off.

Since Carter Brothers, which had 43 people on its last payroll, is a business that affects state commerce, Paulk said the BATFE’s National Response Team was called in to assist.

“They bring in…resources that we don’t have on the local level on staff,” Paulk said.

An example of those resources would be structural engineers.

Also assisting in the investigation were local fire departments: Hamilton Crossroads, Brundidge, Banks and Troy, along with the Pike County Emergency Management Agency.

The estimated damage to the business that is the largest in Hamilton Crossroads is between $16 and $20 million.

Paulk would not say specifically what led to the determination the fire was rson.

This is the second major fire the business has seen in the last 10 years. The first was determined accidental.

“That differs from this fire,” he said.

Paulk did say Carter Brothers was not fire code compliant since it lacked sprinkler systems.

Fire fighters from 19 agencies responded to the fire that started around 3:30 a.m. Monday and worked to battle the blaze until around 3:30 p.m.

Paulk said he wants to thank those responding agencies: Hamilton’s Cross Roads Fire Department, Brundidge Police and Fire Departments, Troy Fire Department, Banks Fire Department, Spring Hill Fire Department, Goshen Fire Department, Pike County Fire and Rescue, Saco Fire Department, Meeksville Fire Department, Henderson Fire Department, Ozark Fire Department, Enterprise Fire Department, Ariton Fire Department, Marley Mills Fire Department, Louisville Fire Department, Clio Fire Department, Five Star Fire Department, and Batten’s Cross Roads Fire Department.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Arson hotline at 1-800-654-0775 or report online at www.aldoi.gov.

Carter Brothers owners could not be reached for comment Monday night.