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ATF Asks For Tips On Yankton Motel Fire

March 10, 2014, 5:44 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

ATF Asks For Tips On Yankton Motel Fire

Local, state and federal agents are asking for the public's help with a Yankton arson investigation.

Last week, the Colonial Inn Motel in Yankton was engulfed in flames as an early morning fire destroyed the building.

Over the weekend, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the fire was intentionally set and sent out a picture of a person of interest. Investigators believe the person of interest was the last individual who was in the area before firefighters responded to the call at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

"That image was from a camera that was nearby and this is an individual - a person of interest - somebody who we're interested in identifying as well as speaking with this individual," ATF Special Agent Robert Schmidt said from his Saint Paul, Minnesota, office Monday.

ATF investigators don't know who the individual is, but do know the individual was near the motel shortly before it was engulfed in flames.

"We didn't have any eye witnesses on the scene so we're hopeful that people will look at this photo, maybe recognize it, maybe they have seen this individual earlier in the evening or they may know who this individual is," Schmidt said.

The motel is a total loss and ATF agents estimate the damage at half a million dollars.

Because the damage was so significant, the fire was so severe and it's believed it was set on purpose, the ATF is putting up a reward to help crack the case.

"I would really encourage the public to look at this photograph closely. What you may feel is insignificant could be the final piece of the puzzle for us to solve this crime," Schmidt said.

ATF is offering a $5,000 and CrimeStoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who has information that can lead to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the fire.

If you have a tip, call the Sioux Falls ATF office at (605) 782-8200, Yankton Police at (605) 668-5210 or CrimeStoppers at (605) 665-4440.

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