Skip to main content

Arson fire at Chinese consulate in San Francisco a 'despicable act'

By Shimon Prokupecz and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 8:30 PM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Video obtained by KTVU shows a ball of fire erupting in front of the consulate
  • Video shows a person throwing what appears to be buckets of gasoline, consulate officials say
  • No injuries have been reported
  • "We strongly condemn this despicable attack," Wang Chuan, the consulate spokesman, said

(CNN) -- The FBI is investigating an arson fire at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, an incident that has China's diplomats calling on the United States Thursday to "take all measures to provide adequate protection."

There is no indication the fire was an act of terrorism, FBI spokesman Peter Lee said.

According to a statement released by the consulate, footage from surveillance cameras shows the fire began Wednesday night after a person emerged from a parked mini-van, poured two buckets of gasoline on the front door of the consulate and ignited it.

"We strongly condemn this despicable attack," Wang Chuan, the consulate spokesman, told reporters during a news briefing outside the consulate. "We urge the U.S. side to take all necessary measures to provide adequate protection for Chinese consular personnel and properties."

Chuan characterized the fire as a "violent crime" that not only targeted the consulate but also its employees and residents living nearby.

There were no injuries reported in the fire, though a small number of employees were in the building when it began, Chuan told CNN affiliate KGO.

Surveillance video obtained exclusively by CNN affiliate KTVU appears to show a person standing in front of the consulate. Then seconds later on the grainy video, there is a ball of fire that erupts in front of the building, and the person can be seen walking to vehicle parked only a few feet away. The vehicle then drives off.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the attack, and the United States is not aware of a specific threat made against the consulate, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

"We take this incident very seriously," Harf said, adding that the United States is "deeply concerned" about the reported attack.

CNN's Evan Perez and Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:43 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions and pleaded for U.S. help in interviews with CNN.
Hundreds of jihadis in Syria are from abroad -- which countries have the biggest problem?
updated 5:13 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Libyan militia members have apparently turned the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, into a water park.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Obama's remarks that he didn't yet have a strategy for ISIS in Syria is widely criticized.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 8:08 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
updated 4:45 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
In a major breach of privacy, a hacker leaked a series of pictures allegedly showing Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities in the nude.
Instead of weaving garments sold in the West, children should be in school
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers around the world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT