The headquarters for the Maricopa County Democratic Party in Phoenix, Arizona, burned nearly to the ground on Friday morning, a fire that local authorities suspect to be the work of an arsonist.
As Business Insider reported, the fire was sparked in the early morning hours and put out by close to 1 a.m. local time, with no injuries being reported. Officials said that the building was empty at the time and has not been staffed at full levels during the coronavirus pandemic.
The report said that investigators are collecting evidence including nearby surveillance video but have not yet revealed why they believe the fire was intentionally set. They have also not announced if there is a suspect in mind.
Steven Slugocki, the chairman of the county’s Democratic Party, gave a bit more insight. He told Business Insider that video showed a person getting out of a car and throwing a projectile at the building before driving away. It took only minutes for a fire to spread after the incident, he shared.
Slugocki said that the blaze was devastating for the headquarters, destroying some critical infrastructure for campaigning and voter outreach efforts.
“Our computers, our phones, our tablets, our printers, everything to get out the vote was destroyed in the fire last night,” he shared. “Someone through a [projectile] threw it through our window and it destroyed our building.”
But the local Democratic leader said they would not be deterred and would be “going harder than ever before.”
“It’s more important than ever that we do the work that we were elected to do, and that’s to win elections this November,” he said.
It was not clear if the fire was politically motivated in any way, though Slugocki told ABC 15 that the headquarters had been targeted with some lighter vandalism in the past, around the time of U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment vote.
Arizona, which has consistently gone to Republicans in recent presidential elections, appears to be more of a battleground this year. A series of polls have shown a tight race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, including a recent CBS News poll that showed Biden in the lead there. A number of Democrats have pushed Biden to expand his efforts beyond traditional battleground states and into places like Arizona, which could force Trump and the Republican Party to spend resources defending a state that in the past had been considered a likely win.