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FBI: Chinese Consulate fire set intentionally

  • A burned stack of China Daily newspapers sits on a step at the damaged entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a statement Thursday that a person came out of a van that was parked outside the compound Wednesday night and splashed two buckets of gasoline onto the front door before setting it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    A burned stack of China Daily newspapers sits on a step at the damaged entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a statement Thursday that a person came out of a van that was parked outside the compound Wednesday night and splashed two buckets of gasoline onto the front door before setting it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • The flag of China flies over the damaged entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    The flag of China flies over the damaged entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • A burned door lies outside the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    A burned door lies outside the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • A San Francisco Police officer stands outside of the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    A San Francisco Police officer stands outside of the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Damage to signs and a lion statue are seen at the entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    Damage to signs and a lion statue are seen at the entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Wang Chuan, spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate, speaks outside of the damaged entrance to the consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    Wang Chuan, spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate, speaks outside of the damaged entrance to the consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Wang Chuan, spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate, speaks outside of the damaged entrance to the consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    Wang Chuan, spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate, speaks outside of the damaged entrance to the consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • A broken window is shown at the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    A broken window is shown at the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Two men look at the damage to the entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    Two men look at the damage to the entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • A burned stack of China Daily newspapers sits on a step at the damaged entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a statement Thursday that a person came out of a van that was parked outside the compound Wednesday night and splashed two buckets of gasoline onto the front door before setting it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • The flag of China flies over the damaged entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • A burned door lies outside the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • A San Francisco Police officer stands outside of the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • Damage to signs and a lion statue are seen at the entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • Wang Chuan, spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate, speaks outside of the damaged entrance to the consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • Wang Chuan, spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate, speaks outside of the damaged entrance to the consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • A broken window is shown at the damaged entrance to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • Two men look at the damage to the entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Federal officials said yesterday a fire at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco was ignited at the front of the building, leading to an arson investigation and calls from the Chinese government for better protection of diplomats in the United States.

The blaze Wednesday night was not being investigated as an act of terrorism, the FBI said.

No one was hurt in the fire that charred a doorway, damaged the lobby and burned upward toward the roof.

The blaze was caused by a gas-based device with accelerants, FBI spokesman Peter Lee said. No bomb-making materials were found, and there were no traces of an explosion, he added.

The building was open for business yesterday with an increased police presence.

Consulate workers said surveillance footage showed a person coming out of a van parked outside the compound with two buckets of gasoline, pouring it on the front of the building and setting it on fire, said Wang Chuan, a spokesman for the consulate.

“We strongly condemn this despicable act and have already made representations with the U.S. on the attack,” Wang said. “And we hope that the U.S. takes all necessary measures to provide adequate protection to the consular personnel and properties and bring the culprits to justice as soon as possible.”

FBI Special Agent David Johnson did not provide any specifics about a possible motive or suspects.

The consulate also would not speculate on who might be responsible for the attack, Wang said. The cost of repairs was not yet known.

Lee said he did not know whether the consulate had received any threats or been the target of demonstrations.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said it was too early to judge whether security at the consulate had been adequate.

“We take this incident very seriously, and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security is working with the FBI and local authorities to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators,” Harf said.

The police and firefighters arrived at the fire about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and the flames were under control within minutes, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

The fire caused serious damage and endangered consulate officials and citizens living nearby, Wang said.

The consulate was struck by a blaze in March 2008, when a group of people poured flammable liquid on a security gate at the rear of the building and set it on fire. No injuries were reported.

That fire came on the day San Francisco supervisors heard public comment on China’s human rights record months before the start of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The issue arose because of the scheduled Olympic torch run through San Francisco.

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