WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Fire Department is investigating a case of arson to a van that was being used by the Wilmington Police Department's troubled vice and narcotics unit.
The van was set on fire around 4 a.m. Sunday. The van was going to be used in an undercover investigation, but WPD wouldn't say what type of investigation.
The vehicle did not have any cameras or recording devices, according to Captain Jeff Allsbrook, head of the department's Narcotics Enforcement Unit. He said the incident does not require an investigation by an outside agency as of Wednesday.
Firefighters responded to a fire in the parking lot of the Senior Resource Center at Shipyard Blvd. and S. College Rd. The center is directly across the street from the WPD's southeast command center.
The van was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived on scene. Battalion Chief Sammy Flowers of WFD said investigators ruled it arson after recreating the burn Tuesday, but crews first on scene already suspected it.
"The location, the time, early in the morning like that, it's very suspicious," Flowers said.
He added that first responders could smell gas on the passenger side of the vehicle, which investigators consider a sign of arson.
Police detectives work with WFD fire investigators on arson cases, and Flowers said this case will be treated like all others, regardless of WPD being the victim.
"We're going to handle this the same way," he said. "Our integrity is not compromised, nor is theirs."
At the time of this report, there are no leads nor suspects in this case.
The WPD vice & narcotics unit is currently under investigation by the SBI, over a botched undercover prostitution sting. Police Chief Ralph Evangelous recently reassigned all members involved in that investigation, and has the unit under new supervision.
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322 Shipyard Boulevard