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Business owner no longer sure fire was arson; investigation continues

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington business owner said she thought someone set fire to her livelihood Thursday as she watched it burn to the ground. But as a joint task force of local, state and federal agencies investigates, she says the blaze may have been far less sinister.

As investigators search for what caused the inferno, Dorothy Noe, owner of Dorothy’s Ruffled Originals, sifted through what was left of her 35-year-old business.

“It was a tiny little fire. I kept thinking about Boy Scouts, how they build fires,” Noe said.

She said she first noticed flames coming from a hallway used for storage before the it spread out of control.

Noe said she is devastated about the loss but is focusing on moving forward.

“I just have confidence. I’m not letting it bother me. It doesn’t bother me,” she said.

Thursday the business owner thought the cause was suspicious. Friday she guesses it could have been electrical.

“I do not want to think that it was deliberate,” Noe said. “(It happened at) 2:15 in the afternoon. Why would they do it at 2:15 and not 12:15 a.m.?”

Noe said she has owned the property since the ’70s, however she said she recently sold it to Coastal Reality.

Investigators estimate about $500,000 worth of damage to the building and contents. They say it will take until at least next week to figure out what happened.

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