Is online video evidence the fire in Salem was arson?

Is online video evidence the fire in Salem was arson?
The burned out remains of the mini-mall that caught fire late Monday night shows the intensity of the fire.

SALEM, Ore. – Video posted on the Internet has the attention of investigators looking into the cause of an overnight fire that destroyed part of a Salem mini-mall.

Investigators aren't sure yet whether the person who shot and posted the video was joking about throwing fireworks at the building or not.

"I went in there, and I threw a firework, and I thought it was just gonna be a harmless joke," said a male voice on the video, which appears to show firefighters putting out the fire.

The fire marshal hasn't figured out yet how the fire started at the Academy Square strip mall on 1048 Lancaster Drive. The fire was so intense, part of the mini-mall's building collapsed, and a handful of businesses were destroyed or damaged.

Police spotted smoke and flames coming from the building's roof around 11 p.m. Monday.

One of the businesses destroyed belonged to Andrew Roth. He’s already suffered through four years of a bad economy since he bought his paint business.

"We do have insurance, but we're really unsure at this point what's all damaged and everything like that," he said. "They chopped the building up pretty good and sprayed a lot of water in it."

Rent paid by storeowners helped fund the Salem Academy Private Christian School in back of the mall. The school may lose some money from the fire but not nearly what storeowners will.

"And I feel so bad about the people that are involved here in these businesses because of the fact that some of them probably won't recover," said Merle Fadenrecht with Salem Academy Development Company.

Roth is trying to figure out how he'll put his business back together and keep paying his employees. But among all this destruction, he is grateful.

"Very thankful that nobody got hurt, first of all, and that it's not as bad as it could have been," he said.

Roth said he may not be able to wait until the fire investigation is finished and the mall rebuilds. He may have to move to another location in order to stay afloat.

The mall was closed Monday for New Year's Eve, but there were workers inside one part of the building that houses a meat market up until 8 p.m.

Crews will bring in heavy equipment Wednesday to start pulling out the building's collapsed roof so fire investigators can get into the building to track down what caused the fire.