The explosion and fire that consumed a building in Hillcrest Apartments yesterday was caused by natural gas, Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette told Xpress today. Investigators have yet to determine if the blaze was an accident or arson.
“What we know right now is that the fire was caused by natural gas,” Burnette said. “We’re still determining how that was released — accidentally or intentionally — and what exactly would explain the fire.”
Reports that the fire was caused by an exploding methamphetamine lab were completely without evidence, Burnette confirmed.
“That may have come from a 911 call from one of the initial passersby,” he noted. “But we have found absolutely nothing that would indicate that is the case.”
The heat of the wreckage, along with difficult weather conditions, has slowed investigators, but Burnette expected to have a clearer idea of the fire’s cause tomorrow.
—David Forbes, staff writer