This was issued this morning from the Seattle field office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Below is a statement put out Monday afternoon from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Updated news story here.
ATF JOINS CHURCH ARSON INVESTIGATION
WASILLA, Alaska. – Acting Special Agent in Charge Douglas R. Dawson, Seattle Field Division, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced that agents from the Anchorage Field Office joined the Wasilla Bible Church arson investigation.
On December 13, 2008 the Central Mat-Su Fire Department and the Alaska State Fire Marshals Office contacted ATF Anchorage Field Office and requested assistance in investigating the fire that occurred on December 12, 2008. The on-site investigation revealed an ignitable accelerant that had been poured on and around the exterior of the church in multiple locations, to include the entrances and exits. Evidence recovered from the fire scene was collected and retained by members of the Alaska State Crime Laboratory. The initial damage to the structure is estimated at about $500,000.00. No injuries have been reported.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been known to attend this church in the past. Governor Palin and her family attended the church the Sunday before her selection as the Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate.
"ATF will continue to work diligently alongside our local partners and will make every effort to find the person/s responsible for this fire”, stated Acting Special Agent in Charge, Douglas R. Dawson. “Most importantly, there were no injuries or deaths related to this incident ".
This is an ongoing, joint investigation with the Central Mat-Su Fire Department, the Anchorage Fire Department, the Wasilla Police Department and the State Fire Marshals Office.
From the Mat-Su Borough:
Federal ATF says accelerant poured on church
MAT-SU–The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said an accelerant had been poured on and around the outside of the Wasilla Bible Church in multiple places, including the entrances and exits, according to an ATF news release today.
Evidence that could help determine the type of accelerant that was recovered from the fire scene is being examined by the state crime lab. Results could be returned within two weeks.
On Friday Dec. 12, when the fire started five women were inside the 35,314 square-foot church on Nicola Ave. behind Burchell High School. Responders were dispatched at about 9:40 p.m. Friday. Temperatures were below zero. No one was injured. One woman said their vehicles were plainly visible near the main adult entrance where fire began.
"It's an open investigation. As soon as possible, we'll update you on the results," said Fire Chief James Steele, who was the Incident Commander on the fire."
The church is attended by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her family. The church appeared in national press during her campaign for Vice President. Borough Mayor Curt Menard, and three state Legislators are also members.
"There is no information that the fire was politically motivated," Steele said.
Initial estimates indicate about $1 million in damage to the metal-framed building,which is valued at $4 million to $5 million dollars.