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Investigators: $55 million inferno was arson

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Investigators today confirmed the Oct. 21 Galleria fires were an act of arson, costing upward of $55 million in damage. The conclusion comes from the joint efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Roseville Fire Department and the Roseville Police Department. The ATF said in a statement “there is sufficient physical evidence to support this determination” but that it would not release specifics “while the investigation continues.” The evidence likely includes an accelerant and a backpack belonging to suspect Alexander Piggee, who threatened he had a bomb and then denied it. Prosecutors have charged Piggee, 23, with aggravated arson, arson of a structure, two counts of criminal threats and burglary. A secondary allegation sites “a device designed to accelerate the fire.” “I appreciate the quick response from ATF to assist in this complex fire investigation,” Roseville Police Chief Mike Blair said in the statement. “I am pleased with the collaboration.” But public anger has dogged police, who are investigating reports that someone in its department ordered sprinklers be turned off during the fires. The City of Roseville has confirmed the sprinklers were temporarily shut off at some point. The blaze started the morning of Oct. 21, when Piggee allegedly barricaded himself inside a GameStop, ignited several fires and forced a complete evacuation. More than 40 stores reopened a week later, the same day Piggee received a court delay to allow for a mental evaluation. ~ Staff report