$400,000 in damages at Belton construction site due to arson and vandalism

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BELTON, Mo. -- Officials are offering up to a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for setting a fire at a massive industrial hub under construction.

A 911 caller reported seeing fire on the roof of the Southview Commerce Center along Interstate 49 at about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12. Belton firefighters responded and quickly put it out.

However, firefighters became suspicious after noticing that there was no fire underneath the roof. They then called in experts from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate.

The ATF said someone deliberately set the fire, using chemical cleaner and roofing materials on top of the building.

The fire caused about $200,000 in damage, but investigators said it could have been much worse.

"It’s on the back side of a construction site," ATF Agent John Ham said. "We have, at 1:30 in the morning, very few folks out milling around, and so somebody knows something. It took more than one person, we think, to probably get this going. Somebody has talked. Somebody has said something."

Ham says the criminals also caused about $200,000 in losses to some construction equipment on the site by crashing two vehicles over a barrier.

"We are hoping $5,000 is a good incentive to contact ATF and let us know what you know," Ham said.

The Southview Center promises to bring up to 1,400 warehousing, distribution and manufacturing jobs to Belton when the five-building complex is completed.

Some neighbors nearby originally had opposed the project because of its large scale. Ham said the building currently under construction is about 450,000 square feet.

If you have information and want to be eligible for the reward in this case, officials ask that you call the ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-FIRE, or 1-888-283-3473.

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