Five-alarm Thunderbird Hotel fire now considered suspicious - KPTV - FOX 12

Five-alarm Thunderbird Hotel fire now considered suspicious

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A five-alarm fire that destroyed a vacant hotel on Hayden Island is now considered suspicious.

The historic Thunderbird Hotel was ripped apart by a massive fire on Sept. 2. The hotel is a total loss with damages estimated at $17 million.

Investigators have worked for months to determine the cause. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted local crews with the investigation. The team included explosives specialists, forensic chemists and even a special arson dog.

On Thursday, Portland Fire & Rescue said for the first time the fire is considered suspicious and investigators cannot rule out the possibility of arson.

"I think the talk in the neighborhood, was that the fire was suspicious from the very beginning," said Jantzen Beach resident Carolee Colins. "

Multnomah County records which show the owner, Thunderbird Hotel LLC attention Howard Dietrich, owes more than 1.1 million dollars in taxes on the property for the past three years.

FOX 12 reached out to Dietrich for comment, but he has not returned our calls.

The director of operations at the hotel says they are not prepared to make a comment on these new developments until the investigation is complete.  

No potential suspect information was released.

Crime Stoppers of Oregon is asking for the public's help and is offering a reward up to $1,000 in this case.

If you know anything about the fire, call 503-823-HELP or leave a tip online at www.crimestoppersoforegon.com.

No one was hurt as a result of the fire.

Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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