SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Investigators confirmed the fire that roared through the Dupont Plaza Hotel on New Year's Eve during a labor dispute, killing 96 people, was arson but said they found no evidence of a bomb or incendiary device.
Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice Hector Rivera Cruz refused to say if police had any suspects but Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon said both sides in the contract dispute between the hotel and a Teamsters union local were under investigation.
The fire, which also injured 120 people, swept through the hotel less than nine hours before workers were to walk out over a pay dispute.
'We have concluded this was an arson,' Rivera Cruz told reporters Sunday. 'We didn't find evidence of an explosive device or bomb related to the cause of this fire.'
Rivera Cruz said investigators were trying to determine 'how many person or persons participated in this crime that caused the arson.' He refused to say if police were close to making arrests.
Police Chief Carlos Lopez Feliciano today told the 'CBS Morning News' that 'everybody at the scene before and during the fire is being investigated.'
The fire erupted shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday and spread quickly through the high-rise luxury hotel on San Juan's beachfront. The hotel was booked solid.
Eighty-five of the 96 people victims died in the casino and their charred bodies were found near doorways, according to forensic experts who supervised removal of the bodies.
The blaze came amid tense contract negotiations between Dupont management and the Teamsters union local representing hotel workers, who were to strik midnight.
Hernandez Colon said both sides in the dispute -- including hotel security guards -- were under investigation.
Police said they responded to a telephone bomb threatagainst the Dupont made less than two hours before the fire but left after a hotel employee assured them there were no problems. Hotel officials said they received threatening letters.
The Teamsters union has denied involvement and has attributed the blaze to management negligence.
Teamsters lawyer Jorge Farinacci, who is suspected of involvement in the 1983 robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Conn., by the Puerto Rican separatist group Macheteros, said the announcement that the fire was not caused by a bomb cleared the union of involvement.
'If there was no bomb, you can't accuse anybody who wasn't at the hotel,' said Farinacci, who is free on $1 million bail. The FBI says Farinacci is a key member of the Macheteros, which is seeking independence for the U.S. commonwealth.
Hotel director Bruce Shulman, who has denied allegations of negligence, said he was 'not surprised' by the arson finding but declined further comment on the inquiry.
Shulman also said, 'we are not planning to file for bankruptcy' in anticipation of multimillion-dollar lawsuits by victims and survivors of the fire.
Shulman said the hotel has been owned by the San Juan Dupont Plaza Corp. of Delaware since 1979, when it was purchased from Sheraton Corp.
Several law firms specializing in personal injury litigation are preparing suits against the hotel's owners and other suppliers and manufacturers of equipment and material that may have contributed to deaths.
Shulman said lawyers would seek a court order today limiting access to the hotel to preserve critical evidence, a largely pro forma legal maneuver because access has been restricted to officials and rescue personnel since the fire.
'Because of the seriousness and gravity of this revelation of intentional criminal arson, we are taking steps to ensure the security of the hotel site and grounds,' he said.
Guerry Thornton, of the Atlanta law firm of Acree and Thornton, said he planned to file a lawsuit and motions in federal court in San Juan seeking access to evidence and barring hotel insurance adjusters from making rapid out-of-court settlements with survivors.
Results of tests on charred pieces of the walls, ceilings, floors and other objects from the hotel would be turned over to Puerto Rican authorities today, investigation sources said. The debris was flown to a laboratory in Rockville, Md., for analysis.