Arson attack suspected at Bernie Sanders’ Vermont office

No motive has been established

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Saturday 06 April 2024 19:01 BST
Related video: Senator Bernie Sanders proposes 4-day work week

A suspect is on the run after an arson attack at the Vermont office of Independent Senator Bernie Sanders.

A “significant fire” engulfed the door and part of the vestibule while staff were inside the Independent senator’s Burlington headquarters on Friday morning.

A man sprayed a possible accelerant on the office door, set the fire and fled, according to Vermont State Police. No one has been arrested and no motive established, authorities said.

Police released a photo from surveillance footage of the suspect wearing an orange beanie hat, white sneakers, black jacket, and dark pants.

“A significant fire engulfed the door and part of the vestibule, impeding the egress of staff members who were working in the office and endangering their lives,” Burlington police said in a statement. “The sprinkler system then engaged and largely extinguished the fire.”

Police are seeking to identify a suspect who allegedly set Sen Bernie Sanders’s Vermont office on fire (Burlington Police Department)

Mr Sanders was not at the office during the attack.

The Burlington Fire Department reported that the fire broke out in an area between the vestibule, elevator, and entrance to Mr Sanders’s office on the building’s third floor.

Firefighters were called to the scene at about 10.45am on Friday. The building’s sprinkler system had put out most of the fire by the time of their arrival.

The door was moderately damaged, and large parts of the building suffered water damage. Mr Sanders’ office and others nearby were evacuated.

“We are grateful to the Burlington Fire and Police Departments who responded immediately today to a fire incident that took place in our office building,” Kathryn Van Haste, Vermont state director for Mr Sanders, said in a statement, according to The New York Times.

Senator Bernie Sanders, pictured on 3 April, was not at the office at the time of the fire (Getty Images)

“We are relieved that no one on our staff and, to our understanding, no one in the building was harmed,” she added, according to Vermont outlet Seven Days.

“Thank you as well to the Vermont State Police for their assistance and the efforts of the US Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who are working in coordination with local first responders.”

Burlington Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak said that she was “grateful for the quick action of the Burlington Fire and Police Departments in responding to the fire at One Church Street”.

“My office continues to be in close communication with both departments as the investigation is carried out,” she added.

The brick building, valued at about $5.9m, was constructed in the late 1890s and previously served as a Masonic Temple, the local outlet noted. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Independent has contacted the office of Mr Sanders, the Burlington Police Department, and the US Capitol Police for comment.

Mr Sanders has faced threats in the past – Long Beach police arrested a man in 2019 after he allegedly posted an online threat against a rally featuring the senator that was set to take place in the city. In 2018, a Maryland teenager was indicted after he sent death threats to Mr Sanders and then-California Senator, now-Vice President Kamala Harris. Also in 2019, a man was convicted in Orlando, Florida for sending death threats to Mr Sanders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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