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Fire set intentionally at former greyhound park, but there will be no formal arson probe

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Fire at former Dairyland Greyhound Park

KENOSHA -- FOX6 News has learned Kenosha fire officials will not be conducting a formal investigation into the arson Tuesday night, April 2 at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha -- with demolition underway.

Fire officials said someone trespassed inside and intentionally set the place on fire. Upon arrival around 8 p.m. Tuesday, crews found three separate fires burning inside the building.

"It's obvious people had been piling up different combustibles and putting them in a position where they could start them on fire," said Battalion Chief Matthew Haertner of the Kenosha Fire Department.

Additional first responders were needed. South Shore fire officials sent their "collapse team" to the scene.

Demolition underway on former Dairyland Greyhound Park, Kenosha

Kenosha residents were left wondering who was responsible and why it happened.

"I can't see why anyone would want to burn down a place that's being torn down, so that's a big question in my mind," said Russell Carrel.

Less than 24 hours since the fire was extinguished, Kenosha officials said Wednesday they would not conduct a formal investigation into the arson. The battalion chief told FOX6 News the instability of the structure due to the demolition was just too risky for a firefighter to go inside.

Demolition underway on former Dairyland Greyhound Park, Kenosha

Demolition underway on former Dairyland Greyhound Park, Kenosha

However, FOX6 News learned a criminal investigation by Kenosha police was still underway.

In the meantime, with demolition back on track, the process of removing the structure took an unexpected turn.

"Our goal is for them to get this down as soon as possible, so we don't have repeat offenders," Haertner said.

Fire officials said Tuesday night that there are cameras around the area that could help identify the person or persons responsible for the fire.

Demolition underway on former Dairyland Greyhound Park, Kenosha

Demolition underway on former Dairyland Greyhound Park, Kenosha

The building is 300,000 square feet -- built in 1989. The property is 228 acres. The greyhound park closed in 2009. In late 2013, it was proposed to be the home of the Menominee Tribe's $800 million Hard Rock International casino project. In early 2015, former Governor Scott Walker rejected the proposal. In August of 2015, the property went on the market. It was sold in September 2017 to a developer for $12.5 million.

Records show a permit for commercial razing was approved in January 2019.

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