In a couple of interviews this week, a political consultant to porn star and possible Senate candidate Stormy Daniels claimed an unknown man tampered with his car, causing it to explode last Thursday with such force it sent the car's roof five stories into the air.
But, according to the New Orleans Fire Department, there was no explosion.
"It was a fire. The car didn't explode," said Public Information Officer Jonathan Pajeaud. An arson investigation is underway and foul play hasn't been ruled out. But, Pajeaud said, Welsh told firefighters he'd recently gotten electrical work done on his 1996 Audi, and investigators are also looking into that as a possible cause.
Welsh told a local TV news station that police told him they'd never seen anything like it.
But, Pajeaud said, "Car fires here are very common."
He added that investigators, on average, have a preliminary report in about two weeks. Pajeaud said that, for now, the investigation is being handled solely by the fire department and not by police. The police department has not responded to our questions.
Welsh, who's worked in recent years as a spokesman for Louisiana Victory and the Louisiana Democratic Party, has been insinuating that someone was trying to "send (him) a message" by destroying his car. He posted a video from a nearby surveillance camera showing a person loitering near the car. The video is unclear to us, but Welsh claims that the person, who he describes as a black male in his late 20s or early 30s, climbs into the car before walking away a few minutes before the fire erupts.
However, Welsh has been careful not to say outright that a political opponent caused the fire.
"It's too early for me to go pointing fingers. I'd like to hear what officially happened and then we'll take it from there," Welsh told a local TV news station. But, he added, "When you rule out everything else, you're sort of left with the obvious."
He also said the fledgling Daniels campaign would not be deterred, in an interview with a local radio station.
"What we're talking about and what we've been doing over the past few months is way too important to have it be deterred by the loss of a nice little car," he said.
The fire happened at about 11:23 p.m. Thursday near the corner of Gaiennie and South Peters streets while Welsh says he and his wife were out walking their dog.
Two days later, on Saturday, Daniels was arrested for allegedly assaulting her husband. Welsh posted the YouTube videos and went on TV Monday.
Daniels formed an exploratory committee in May to look into a possible run for Republican David Vitter's Senate seat. Vitter is running for re-election despite his connection to the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal.
In the radio interview, Welsh said he expects Daniels to make a decision in September on whether to run for the Senate. If she does decide so, she'll have to move back to Louisiana from her current home in Tampa, Fla.
Late update: Welsh just called us back and said that, while the electrical work -- a replaced fuse -- was his first thought as to the cause, the surveillance tapes convinced him otherwise.
We also asked him why, if he didn't want to say that it was a political opponent who caused the fire, would he post the videos on YouTube in the first place?
"If somebody is (trying to send a message) then I believe the most important thing I can do is to make sure people saw that," Welsh said. "If anybody was trying to do that, they would think twice about doing something in the future. You can't be quiet about something and wait for it to happen in the future."
Welsh also commented on Daniels's arrest, saying it won't affect her decision to run for Senate.
"She's always been considering the prospect and is still considering her prospect," he said.