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Fire That Destroyed Historic Cave Creek Saloon Labeled As Suspicious

Published: Friday, November 27, 2015 - 1:45pm

The historic Buffalo Chip Saloon burned on Thanksgiving morning, and Colin Williams of the Rural Metro Fire Department says it was no accident.

“There was obviously a reason to call out the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Arson Investigators." Williams said. "We know that we are looking at a situation where somebody is trying to damage this business.”

Williams says Rural Metro firefighters were called out to the scene twice to respond a fire in the bathroom. After the first fire was extinguished, MCSO investigators arrived a second time to find the 64-year-old establishment engulfed in flames.

Saloon owner Larry Wendt is a former MCSO chief deputy under Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who surveyed the scene last night. 

Sheriff’s spokesman Christopher Hegstrom says they are looking into all possibilities into the cause of the fire.

Hegstrom noted that Arpaio has a personal interest in the investigation because he and Wendt are old friends.

"Sheriff Arpaio has a vested interest just because of their relationship, and would like to know what happened," Hegstrom said.

Williams says the Cave Creek fixture was built in 1951 and a popular watering hole for locals, especially for fans of the Green Bay Packers.

“It was actually heartbreaking to see it burn. I have memories there, all the firefighters that were there have memories there, the community came out in force, and it’s really just a terrible thing," Williams said.