Authorities Searching for Man Who Set Fire Near Bernie Sanders’ Office

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A suspected arsonist sprayed an “apparent accelerant” and set fire to the entrance of senator’s Vermont headquarters, trapping employees inside until fire fighters arrived

Police are investigating a suspected arson at the Burlington, Vt., offices of Sen. Bernie Sanders and searching for an unidentified man who started the blaze.

The suspect lit the fire in a vestibule after spraying an “apparent accelerant” on the office door, and the fire prevented workers from exiting the office, which was on the third floor. The building’s sprinkler system activated and extinguished most of the flames. The Burlington Fire Department arrived around 10:45 a.m., according to the Burlington Police.

The fire department said the fire occurred “in the vestibule between the elevator and the entrance door to Senator Bernard Sanders’ office.” The department said it “deemed this fire incendiary in nature” and announced it was moving the investigation over to the Vermont State Police.

“The fire was extinguished, and the Senator’s office and surrounding offices were searched and cleared of occupants,” the fire department added.

No injuries were reported, and the senator was not in the office at the time of the fire. Authorities released a surveillance footage image of the suspect, who was wearing an orange knit cap, black jacket and dark pants while carrying a light-colored tote bag.

“We are grateful to the Burlington Fire and Police Departments who responded immediately today to a fire incident that took place in our office building,” said Kathryn Van Haste, the senator’s Vermont state director, according to The New York Times.


Van Haste added that the local police and fire department were collaborating with the United States Capitol Police and the Senate sergeant-at-arms on the investigation.

The fire takes place amid a spate of vandalism acts targeting lawmakers for supporting Israel’s military assault on Gaza, although none of those earlier instances involved fire. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) said posters depicting Israeli hostages were vandalized with “Free Palestine” stickers outside his Capitol office on March 29. Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) and Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) said their district offices were targeted with posters opposing Israel’s actions. Valado’s office was also splashed with a red liquid.

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