Small explosion destroys ‘Little Free Library’ book collection box in Arlington

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Authorities are investigating a series of small explosions that destroyed at least two properties in Arlington County.

Officers responded to the 100 block of N. Columbus Street around 12:45 p.m. Nov. 9 to report a fire.

Upon arrival, the crews found a “Little Free Library” book collection box had been destroyed by fire outside. Small free libraries are boxes often seen by a sidewalk where books are left inside to be donated or for members of the community to exchange for free.

“I don’t understand. But I mean, I know there are people who take great pleasure in being mean to other people or animals… I know there are bad people, evil in the world is right behind bad choices,” said Sharon Beth Bronheim, owner of the tiny free library that has blown to pieces.

Bronheim tells FOX 5 that it was the last object her father built before moving out of the house she grew up in.

Bronheim and her husband described hearing a noise resembling a transformer exploding and seeing fire coming out of the window of their home where the library box was. Bronheim says they and their neighbors rushed frantically to put out the flames, fearing the dry leaves would catch and spread the fire either to an adjacent wooded area or to their home.

Afterwards, there were concerns that the Bronheims might be targeted. We no longer think that is the case. Just over a five-minute walk from the small library fire, Arlington County investigators found a second possible crime scene near the Lubber Run Amphitheater.

An ornate donation box known as the “Wishing Well” had also been destroyed.

Art Schwartz says what was destroyed was both positive things in this community. “It was heartbreaking. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years…the first time anything like this has happened in my memory,” said Schwartz, whose wife works with the amphitheater. .

A neighbor showed FOX 5 a video where you hear up to about four loud bangs. Another neighbor thinks the incident lasted half an hour.

Several agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are now involved in the investigation.

“The Office of Fire Prevention is asking anyone living in the immediate area with home monitoring equipment to please review their video,” read a press release from Arlington County Fire & EMS.

Anyone with information can email investigators at: [email protected] or contact the Arlington County Police Inquiry Line at: (703) 228-4180

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