It’s suspected that arson was the cause of the fire that broke out at the Texas governor’s mansion on Sunday, which heavily damaged the 152-year-old building that occupies a city block next to the State Capitol in downtown Austin.
Krista Piferrer, deputy press secretary to Gov. Rick Perry reported that the governor’s mansion that was undergoing extensive renovations was unoccupied. So, no injuries occurred.
According to the deputy press secretary, the fire that sent clouds of smoke over the neighborhood, was reported at 1:45 a.m. Central time, and firefighters arrived minutes later to fight huge flames leaping from the building, and the fire was brought under control by 11 a.m. by more than 100 firefighters.
Ms. Piferrer reported that the flames engulfed part of the building’s roof, which buckled but did not collapse, and the damage appeared to be “bordering on catastrophic”. The renovations, which had been scheduled for completion next spring, included improving the building’s plumbing and installing a fire suppression system. The building was equipped with fire alarms but had no sprinkler system.
She told that all historical furniture, paintings and heirlooms had been moved to other locations, because of the renovations. Mr. Perry, a Republican, and his family was living in a rental house. The governor was traveling in Europe on a trade mission in Sweden at the time of the fire.
Ms. Piferrer said that the state fire marshal and investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were examining videotapes that suggest arson was the cause of the fire. She said, the officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety had been providing security to the mansion, and no arrests had been made by Sunday afternoon.
The Greek Revival-style mansion has been occupied by every Texas governor since it was built in 1856, and it is said to be the fourth-oldest governor’s residence in the country.