UPDATE: Suspect Identified in Sports Authority Fire - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

UPDATE: Suspect Identified in Sports Authority Fire

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BILLINGS - UPDATE: Billings police have identified a suspect in the Sports Authority fire. Lt. Kevin Iffland says the suspect is a 15-year-old, and no charges have been filed yet. He says they are still working on the investigation and getting statements from witnesses.

A fire sparked by fireworks has left Sports Authority with $500,000 in damage, according to the Billings Fire Department.

People occupied the store at the time of the fire, but there were no fatalities and no injuries, according to the fire department. The property and its contents are both insured.

KULR-8 spoke with a witness on scene who described what she called a "sparkler bomb" tossed into the bushes.

"My friends were already here, and they saw (the fire) too, and they had the fire extinguisher, and tried getting it out of the bushes," she said. "But by the time (the fire) hit the bushes, it had already went high enough to hit the building."

"Whether it was some sort of firework -- a sparkler type bomb -- that was homemade out of a combo of sparklers, or whether it was a tube and mortar thing --  that's yet to be determined," said Billings Police Department Lt. Kevin Iffland.

As far as the investigation, the BPD has identified persons of interest, but there are no suspects yet.

"We've got persons of interest at this point -- and that's what they are at this point -- persons of interest," Iffland said. "The officer doing the follow up investigation will try to obtain more information, so we can track down and find a suspect in this case."

Lt. Iffland said there could possibly be a negligent arson charge, depending on the findings of the investigation, but added that it's speculation at this point.

"Even though it might not have been intentional to set the fire and burn the building itself, it could be a negligent act -- that the actions they were taking were negligent enough," Iffland said.

Sports Authority released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

"Shortly after closing last evening, the front exterior of our Sports Authority location in Billings caught fire due to lit fireworks. The store was safely evacuated and no one was injured. We are fully cooperating with local law enforcement in their investigation and ask those with information to call Crimestoppers at (406) 657-8200. The store will remain closed until further notice."

It is illegal to sell, light off, or possess fireworks in the city limits of Billings.
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