BRADENTON -- Bags of donations outside a thrift store benefiting domestic abuse victims were set on fire at 10:43 p.m. Monday.
Bradenton Fire Department officials responding to The Hope Chest, 1215 Eight Ave. W., found bags of donations ablaze outside the business.
Most donations would have gone to victims, according to Laurel Lynch, executive director and chief executive officer at Hope Family Services, a nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence. Donations range from clothes to pots and pans and other household items, she said.
It's impossible to tell how many donations were set ablaze, she said.
"It's just a big pile of ash now," Lynch said. "We don't know what happened."
Bradenton Fire Marshal Kenneth Langston said he hasn't yet ruled the case an arson. There were no electrical wires near the fire, but it's still possible the blaze was an accident, Langston said.
Lynch said the burn reached the garage door of the business, which they are having assessed for possible replacement. The alarm system was also damaged by either fire or water dousing the blaze, she said.
Lynch said there are no surveillance cameras at the store, but she's hoping cameras at a bus stop across the street caught something.
Hope Family Services was founded in 1979, and the Hope Chest thrift store has existed since 1997.
Donations can be taken to the Hope Chest from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday or dropped off after hours.