State Bridge arson goes cold
VAIL, Colorado ” With their leads exhausted and the case still unsolved, investigators are closing the investigation into the State Bridge Lodge arson.
The historic lodge burned in the early morning of June 2, 2007. The building, built in 1890 on the Colorado River north of Wolcott, was a popular concert venue and bar.
Investigators released new information about the case Friday as they were ready to close it.
Before the fire was set, someone tried unsuccessfully to break into an ATM in the lodge that held about $12,000, said Detective Brandon Beaudette of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Pry marks were found on the charred money machine, and a front panel was bent open slightly.
Someone also tried unsuccessfully to pry open a pay phone at the lodge, Beaudette said.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigations dog detected “accelerants,” such as gasoline, at the scene, but lab tests were inconclusive as to what the “accelerant” was, Beaudette said.
The trail of “accelerant” seemed to lead from the ATM out the door, Beaudette said. The fire may have been started to hide the evidence of the burglary, he added.
Over the last year, Beaudette pursued leads, including interviewing several “persons of interest.”
A suspicious s man was seen hitchhiking north on Highway 131 a quarter-mile north of State Bridge as the fire burned that morning, Beaudette said. The man was familiar to some as someone who often hitchhikes through the area, Beaudette said.
The man told police he had been camping beside the lodge, and the fire spooked him into leaving and heading north, Beaudette said. The man was cooperative with the investigation, denying involvement in the arson, and police could not connect him to the crime, Beaudette said.
Burning the lodge for insurance money is not believed to be a motive, either, because the lodge had little insurance coverage, Beaudette said.
Anyone with information on the State Bridge fire should call 970-328-7007 or 800-972-TIPS or go to http://www.tipsubmit.com. Tipsters may remain anonymous.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.