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Fire Destroys Federal Workshop That Builds Fire Extinguishers

REUTERS/Jim Bourg

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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A fire destroyed a federal warehouse outside of Washington, D.C., Tuesday, and authorities are investigating possible arson.

The old wood building was home to workshops that fixed broken fire extinguishers, local CBS affiliate WUSA reports. The warehouse also stored fuel for maintenance trucks and other flammable materials.

The warehouse is one of the facilities the U.S. Department of Agriculture closed last week after threatening emails were sent to several USDA employees.

Fire crews arrived at the burning building around 11 a.m. Tuesday, and extinguished the fire after about 45 minutes, NBC Washington reports.

Video U/D from scene USDA building 426 in Beltsville. Building and several vehicles involved. PGFD pic.twitter.com/qpd7zd84IE

USDA closed the Beltsville building, along with five other facilities around the country, Aug. 30 after several employees at the facility received email threats from an unknown person.

“We’re aware of the threats that were made, certainly it will be taken into context in the investigation,” David Cheplak, special agent and spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told local WUSA. “But at this point, we’re not making a statement either way as to whether those threats are related to this event.”

USDA reopened the offices quickly, but have not disclosed the nature of the email threats.

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