Arson suspected as 2 Jehovah's Witnesses centers burn in Thurston Co. PDF Print E-mail
Two worship centers operated by the Jehovah's Witnesses were damaged by fire Monday morning, and arson is suspected in both blazes, fire officials said.

Olympia firefighters responded to the first blaze, a Kingdom Hall in the 225 Cain Road Southeast about 8:20 a.m.

A fire was breaching an interior wall in the building, which was unoccupied.

Firefighters quickly put out the blaze and determined that it started outside the building. There was a strong smell of petroleum similar to gasoline and other items that suggested arson, the Olympia Fire Department said.

About a half-hour later, another fire was then reported at a second Kingdom Hall in Tumwater. Crews from the Tumwater Fire Department responded to that scene and found smoke and fire inside and outside the building. They were able to extinguish the flames.

The Tumwater fire is likely related to the Olympia fire, officials said.

Officials from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to both fires.

In the Olympia fire, video surveillance footage shows a person pouring a liquid on the exterior of the worship hall and lighting it on fire early in the morning before dawn, said Assistant Chief Rob Bradley of the Olympia Fire Department.

He said it appears the fire smoldered some time before it began spreading through the walls and was noticed.

In the Tumwater fire, evidence indicates two possible ignition points on the north side of the building, said Tumwater Fire Chief Scott LaVielle. It appears that an accelerant was used, he said.

ATF officials are now checking on similarities between the two fires.