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Fire that destroyed Boy Scouts' buildings in Arroyo Grande may be arson

Arroyo Grande police are investigating a fire that burned down Boy Scout Troop 413’s buildings in the Village area on Sunday as arson.

Police are pursuing it as an arson “because of the intensity of the blaze, and we don’t have an obvious reason to suspect other causes,” police Cmdr. John Hough said Monday.

One of the buildings served as the Scout hall for Troop 413. A former one-room schoolhouse, it was owned by and provided to the Scouts by the Japanese Cultural Society of the Five Cities, according to the troop’s website.

The troop, established by scouting’s Los Padres Council in 1946, is the oldest one in San Luis Obispo County, according to the website.

About 4:20 a.m. Sunday, police and Five Cities Fire Authority found the two main buildings at 490 E. Cherry Ave. engulfed. Both were destroyed; a damage estimate is not yet available.

A historic truck that had been loaned to the Boy Scouts and parked next to one of the buildings was severely damaged, police said.

Investigators took physical evidence from the scene, which will likely be analyzed for accelerants at a state Department of Justice lab in Goleta, Hough said. Investigators do not yet know the cause of the fire, nor do they know how many ignition points there may have been in the two buildings.

No one was injured in the fire. Authorities evacuated two homes next to the Scouts property because they were close to the fire, police said. The heat cracked windows in at least one of the homes just east of the fire, Hough said.

The fire is being investigated by the department’s arson investigator, who is also a member of the San Luis Obispo Fire Investigation Strike Team.

Anyone with information can contact San Luis Obispo County Crime Stoppers at 549-7867.

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