ATF: Fire at Mormon church in Tolleson was arson

PHOENIX - Federal investigators say a fire at a Mormon church in Tolleson west of Phoenix was arson.

Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the case.

Tolleson fire investigators along with ATF held a press conference Friday saying that the fire on June 29th was intentionally set. They said someone broke into the church, vandalized it, and set it on fire using some kind of accelerant.

"It is sad that someone has to express themselves by setting a building on fire," said long time church member Stan Burgess who, like many, are devastated by the loss but are trying to forgive.
"I don't have any ill feelings towards who did this," he said. "They'll have to talk it over with the maker in the end."

Investigators would not give specific details on the investigation fearing that information released to the public could compromise the investigation.

The fire was sparked at the church near 95th Avenue and Van Buren on June 29th at around 2:30 a.m.

Jim Ruiz who lives across the street was sadden to hear it was intentional.

"We were thinking it might be electrical," he said. "When you hear it was intentional it really hits you and makes you sad."

Ruiz said the church is a part of the community and everyone is impacted regardless of religion.

"They are our neighbors," he said."

Authorities said no one was injured in the fire.

Anyone with information should contact Tolleson Police.