Arson of the Governor’s Mansion is the ‘greatest unsolved crime’

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ten years have passed since the Texas Governor’s Mansion was nearly burned to the ground in a massive fire. On June 8, 2008, an arsonist used a Molotov cocktail to start the fire early that morning. The suspect remains at large. 

Although investigators had some evidence to work with — including surveillance video — no one has ever been charged in connection with the crime and it’s unclear if anyone ever will be. 

Bob Nicks, president of the Austin Firefighters Association, said his battalion and shift were working when the fire call came in. Nicks says he still remembers the four-alarm fire, even though he wasn’t working that morning.

“That’s the kind of fire in your career you want to be able to attend and do the best you can,” he said. 

Nicks says the call was difficult for the more than 150 firefighters who responded to the scene.

“They showed up and they showed heavy fire near the front door, and we also knew it was under construction, and that’s really important because that means it’s compromised. There’s holes in the ceiling and walls, and places you normally wouldn’t have holes like this,” Nicks said. “On arrival, it was already in the walls and between the floors, and then heading up towards the attic.”

Despite efforts to reach out to the public for help finding the arsonist, sketches and surveillance video never led to any substantial developments in the investigation. 

Nicks said the nature of the criminal investigation is challenging from the beginning.

“There’s certain things that are left behind by an arsonist that we can establish, and sometimes that’ll lead us back to the perpetrator. But the truth is, fire destroys a lot of evidence.” 

The Austin Fire Department went to Facebook Friday to detail the infamous anniversary, saying the crime “may remain one of, if not the, greatest unsolved crimes in Texas history.”

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