LDS church fire in Mesa ruled arson - East Valley Tribune: News

LDS church fire in Mesa ruled arson

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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2007 2:04 am | Updated: 6:12 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A fire that destroyed a Mormon church last month in Mesa was intentionally set, but was not a hate crime, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said Thursday.

On-site investigation of Mormon church fire ends

Fire destroys Mormon church in Mesa

The arson determination was made on Nov. 29, but was not previously released to the public, said ATF special agent Tom Mangan.

“There is no reason to believe that there are any hate crime issues,” he said. Mangan said no other details were available for release.

The Lehi Stake building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1430 N. Grand St., caught fire Nov. 19.

The arson appears to be isolated and investigators do not believe any other churches are being targeted, Mangan said.

Officials have not identified any suspects or persons of interest in the case, and Mangan would not say whether investigators have any solid leads.

It took investigators from the Mesa Fire Department, Maricopa County Arson Task Force, ATF and other agencies almost 10 days to sift through the fire’s rubble.

During that time, the agencies investigated every possibility for the fire. Although no one indicated at the time arson was suspected, the building’s remains remained under high security. A fence was erected around the property and guards put on 24-hour duty, even while investigators were there.

In all, an 18-person team, borrowing from agencies throughout the state, investigated the fire.

The team interviewed church leaders and neighbors in the days following the blaze. They asked about any disgruntled ex-church employees, church members or associates, Mangan had said in an interview on Nov. 27.

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