Dave Linnertz, assistant director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in Grand Junction, said CBI agents have put in many hours going through “a lot of interviews and physical evidence,” and now it’s just a matter of getting the reports finalized.
“We’re in the process of completing the reports, so it’s still ongoing, but nearing a conclusion,” Linnertz said.
Once the reports are finalized, they will go back to the La Plata District Attorney of the 6th Judicial District. The case was sent there to avoid a conflict of interest, since the owner of the athletic club, Mead Serra, is the brother of 7th Judicial District DA Myrl Serra.
Calls to the La Plata DA’s office were not returned Tuesday.
Linnertz said the investigation and subsequent reports have taken a long time because of the number of people interviewed and analysis of the evidence.
“The longer it takes to investigate, the longer the reports,” he said. “But I think we’re talking weeks, not months. There was a lot of interviews and physical evidence they had to go through and I had two investigators working on it full time.”
The fire started in the early morning hours, and when fire fighters arrived at 12:47 a.m. they found flames coming through the roof and a collapsed upper floor of the two-story building on Apollo Road.
A search warrant affidavit issued to Montrose Police Officer Michael Watson on the day of the fire states that shortly after two officers arrived at the fire, they saw and explosion and flames shoot up through the center of the building.
While Watson was at the scene, according to the report, he got a phone call from an athletic club employee who told him about containers of gasoline that had been removed from the building on Sept. 21 after being discovered by an employee.
Montrose Deputy Fire Chief Dale Erickson said the removed containers were labeled “chlorine” and originally held cleaning supplies. One container held about five gallons of gas, he said, and a bigger container held a larger amount.
The containers were removed from the same area in the lower center of the building where the fire started three days later, Erickson said.