Last month when 10,000 Harris County voting machines went up in flames, along with all the ancillary equipment needed to run an eSlate polling place, my first suspicion was that someone wanted to discourage voters from casting their ballots in the mid-term elections, and torched the warehouse.
And now, nearly a month later, it seems that Harris County arson investigators have failed to find an accelerant. An accelerant is any trace of a substance, like gasoline or other flammable substances that could rapidly spread a set fire at a rate that would overwhelm any automatic fire extinguishing measures present in the building.
Now in my brief research on the subject I have found that in any given arson investigation, when no trace of an accelerant is found at the site of a fire, the immediate diagnosis is that the fire was caused either by an electrical fault, a leak in a gas line, or “spontaneous combustion” – the latter being the rare case of combustion of a pile of organic material which is undergoing decomposition.“On Thursday, Arson Chief Gabe Cortez said they have found no evidence an accelerant, such as gasoline, was used in the fire.”
“‘We will examine some of the items recovered microscopically and with X-rays, and have electrical engineers look at those,’ Cortez said.”
So absent an accelerant or multiple points of ignition, investigation of the cause of a fire shifts toward accidental.
Except in this case. In this case no accelerant has been found, yet arson has not yet been ruled out. And I have to wonder why.
Could it be the thing that keeps nagging at me? That the timing and opportunity is such an obvious factor? That who stands the most to gain in an “accident” of this nature foils any conclusion? And more to the point, if there is a rush to judgment on the cause of the fire, that it was simply an accident caused by an electrical fault, will that not raise some eyebrows in the Justice Department?
That is, if at this point the cause of a fire at a warehouse containing parts for Toyota automobiles has not yet been determined as being set deliberately with an accelerant, my guess is that the whole investigation would lead to conclude that the fault was in the wiring and the case is closed.
But burning up water pumps and ignition coils doesn’t affect an entire statewide election, does it? Harris County contains the highest number of voters, Democratic leaning voters, in the state. A fire at the warehouse containing all voting machines in the county is just a little bit more suspicious.
And really, absent the finding of the presence of an accelerant does not alone mean that the fire was due to an electrical fault. That only means that the accelerant could not be detected.
In truth, even if someone comes up with a blackened electrical junction box with melted wires in it, given the “external evidence” of motive, who stands most to gain from this fire, you will never be able to convince me that this wasn’t a purposefully set fire.