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Witness: Branch Davidian fire appears 'coordinated'
WACO, Texas (CNN) -- The fire that destroyed the Branch Davidian complex in 1993 and killed about 80 sect members began as at least three separate fires, a University of Maryland engineering professor testified Wednesday.
James Quintere told the jury that the fires began within two minutes of each other, and within 11 minutes had merged into one large fire.
Survivors of the 1993 standoff and relatives of the victims are suing the government for $675 million in their wrongful death civil lawsuit, claiming the government is responsible for the fire that killed Davidian leader David Koresh and his followers.
In his testimony, Quientere called the fires "highly unusual for anything accidental" and "suggestive of some sort of coordinated action."
He added that the speed with which the fires spread suggested that liquid fuels were used.
A forensic chemist testified Tuesday that some of the clothing and shoes recovered after the compound burned down had traces of flammable liquids similar to gasoline, kerosene and camp fuel.
Earlier Wednesday, FBI agent David Cordeman admitted firing three pyrotechnic military tear gas rounds on the final day of the seige, but said he fired the potentially incendiary shells at a tornado shelter and not at the Davidian compound.
Government attorneys are trying to prove the deadly fire was not caused by federal agents.
Another agent, R.J. Craig, told jurors he ran his converted M-60 tank through the walls of the compound to spray tear gas into the interior of the building and to open exit routes for the people inside.
Craig said he was not trying to destroy the compound. But under cross-examination, he admitted testifying in a 1994 criminal trial that the FBI's other converted tank was trying to do just that.
Jurors Wednesday also viewed news footage and government infrared video of the fire as it engulfed the complex April 19, 1993.
Government lawyers say tapes show Davidians set fire
Federal Bureau of Investigation
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