Lt. Carlton Bradley, of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, filed a police report Tuesday that listed the cause of the fire at 1162 Broad St. as arson, but on Wednesday he clarified that by saying it was only a possible, not a definite, cause.
“We had to list a statute, and by it being a building like that, we have to list it like that (arson),” Bradley said.
Several pieces of evidence have been sent to the crime lab, and results could take six to eight weeks to return. All that investigators have definitely determined is that the fire originated on the third floor.
Michael Osbon, the president of Julian W. Osbon Partnership, which owns the building, said Wednesday that he has not received the impression from investigators that the fire was an arson case.
Firefighters were called about 4:30 a.m. Friday to the brick building at Broad and 12th streets, where they discovered a male tenant trying to escape from a third-story window. The man was rescued by firefighters, who worked for most of the day to put out the flames.
Osbon said he believed the man was the building’s only tenant.
Six apartments and Downtown Dental, which occupied the bottom floor, were damaged.
Bradley said that there was substantial fire damage on the third floor but that most of the damage to the second and first floors was water-related.
Dr. Juanita Adkins, of Downtown Dental, said she is still working on a plan for what to do about her business, which had occupied the building since 2006. Adkins said that everything is “gone” and she’s still dealing with the shock of the news.
“There’s so much to do. It’s overwhelming,” she said.
She plans to contact all her customers soon after she determines her next move. In the meantime, they have reached out to her to show their support.
“I can’t believe the outpouring of sympathy and niceness,” Adkins said. “It has really touched me. I’ve got some lovely patients that are almost like my family.”