Fires at two Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Olympia and Tumwater are being treated as a crime after a person was seen pouring a liquid around one of the buildings and setting it on fire on Monday morning.
Olympia Fire Marshal Rob Bradley said he reviewed security camera footage that showed a person “clearly pouring a liquid around the outside of the church.” At the site, it smelled like a petroleum-based substance.
Olympia fire investigators will assist Olympia police in the investigation, he said. Bradley also said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sending agents to Olympia and Tumwater.
The Olympia fire was set sometime before 8:20 a.m. Monday at the Kingdom Hall at 2225 Cain Road SE. Firefighters knocked down the fire quickly and then crews began overhaul and salvage efforts, Bradley said. He estimated the cost of fire damage at $50,000.
No injuries were reported.
In Tumwater, firefighters were dispatched to the Kingdom Hall at 1199 N. Ninth Ave. SW about 9 a.m.
Members of the congregation were set to enter the hall when they noticed smoke coming from the north side of the building, Tumwater Fire Chief Scott LaVielle said. At first they used a garden hose to fight the fire, then called 911, he said.
LaVielle said fire staff and police determined that two fires that were set on the north side of the building. They also found the “sheen and smell of some kind of accelerant,” he said.
“We did take samples,” LaVielle said.
No one was injured, he said. Although the Kingdom Hall in Olympia had security cameras, the Tumwater location did not, LaVielle said.