Officials with the Merced Fire Department say they've yet to determine the cause of a massive August fire at a Willowbrook Drive apartment complex that displaced nearly 40 people.
Fire Chief Ken Mitten said investigators are still conducting interviews with residents. Mitten said the fire's point of origin was traced to a unit in one of the two burned buildings.
Mitten said investigators have eliminated some possible scenarios. For example, the fire wasn't electrical or caused by a gas leak.
Still, further investigation is needed to figure out whether the fire was accidental -- or a case of arson.
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"We're not in a position to make a definite determination," Mitten said. "We're still doing follow-up."
As for why the investigation has taken nearly a month, Mitten said it's because of the large number of people who were affected by the blaze and the number of interviews investigators must conduct.
Mitten said it's unknown when a conclusion will be reached. Merced police are working closely with the fire department.
The fire, reported shortly after midnight Aug. 31 in the 1800 block of Willowbrook Drive, destroyed both apartment buildings, causing $2.5 million in damage. Each building contained 16 units, and all were occupied. No one was hurt.
Fire investigators are asking anyone with information in the case to call (209) 385-6891. Calls are confidential, and you can remain anonymous.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or email@example.com.