HFD still trying to come up with answers

HFD Announces It Doesn't Know Much Yet About Election-Machines Fire

Wondering what's going on with the investigation into the

warehouse fire

on August 27 that destroyed more than $30 million of Harris County's voting equipment?

Well, lucky for you the Houston Fire Department threw a little media soiree Thursday afternoon to offer forth an update.

The short of it is this: HFD doesn't know jack.

But here are more complete details of how HFD investigators don't know much.

HFD's new chief, Terry Garrison, started off the media conference by re-capping what had happened. Yes, he confirmed, there had been a fire. Then he passed the mic on to Arson Chief Gabe Cortez, who offered what little insight there apparently was to share.

So far, Cortez said, no accelerants or typical tools of an arsonist have been found. Investigators have pinpointed the source of the fire to within a 125-foot area of the 30,000 square-foot warehouse, a part of the building used to store voting machines and to conduct classes.

"We don't have any reason to believe an accelerant was used," Cortez said.

HFD arson experts are examining evidence taken from the warehouse with "microscopes and x-rays," Cortez said, but it is too early to make any conclusions. A working theory is that it may have been an accidental electrical fire, but Cortez was sure to point out that the investigation "will take some time," and that right now, "we don't know" what happened.

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman also used the opportunity to say that replacement voting machines are on the way and that the election should go off almost the same as before the fire. She said between loaners from other counties and deals with vendors, the county is almost up to the number of machines it had originally planned to use on election day.

"While we've been working to recover," she said, "I feel more comfortable than ever that the voters will have a normal election experience ... as if they didn't know there had been a fire."

We assume HFD will let everyone know when they have something further, such as the cause of the fire, to announce.

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