Originally created 05/02/00

Officials await GBI arson tests



While the offices of James Brown Enterprises moved across town Monday, investigators were still awaiting lab results before declaring Friday's fire, which destroyed the entertainer's west Augusta business headquarters, as arson.

Samples of material destroyed in the fire were still being analyzed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Atlanta crime lab, said Katrice Bryant, public information officer for the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department.

Ms. Bryant called the fire "suspicious in nature," but said it still remains to be seen if it was arson.

"We haven't set that ruling yet (that it was arson)," she said. "We still have to wait for the lab results to come back."

The lab results are expected to come back at week's end, Ms. Bryant said.

John Oxendine, state Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, also reminded citizens that his office has an arson hot line. Rewards of up to $10,000 have been given to people who provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of an arsonist.

The offices of James Brown Enterprises were moved Monday to the temporary home of WAAW on Broad Street, a radio station owned by Mr. Brown.

"(Mr. Brown) says we'll move onto something bigger and better now," said Al Bradley, president of James Brown Enterprises.

Mr. Brown has been very positive about the fire and is grateful that no one was hurt, said the Rev. Larry Fryer, a friend of the entertainer who spent Sunday at Mr. Brown's Beech Island home praying and talking with him.

"He said he wasn't going to let it get him down or bother him," the Rev. Fryer said.

Even with his 67th birthday coming this Wednesday, Mr. Brown is remaining upbeat, the Rev. Fryer said.

Those who have any information about the fire can call the Georgia Arson Hotline at (800) 282-5804 or the Richmond County Fire Department at 821-2900.

Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227.