NM Mormon seminary fire investigated as arson - East Valley Tribune: News

NM Mormon seminary fire investigated as arson

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Posted: Friday, February 15, 2008 1:47 pm | Updated: 11:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

FARMINGTON, N.M. - Investigators believe a fire that left substantial smoke and water damage to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seminary building near Farmington High School was deliberately set.

But FBI spokesman Darrin Jones said Thursday there's nothing to lead investigators to think it was a hate crime.

"In some of those cases you'll find graffiti or racial slurs, and they didn't find any of that," he said.

The fire damaged about 40 percent of the building. The blaze started in a classroom cabinet filled with books and papers, Farmington fire investigator Herb Veazy said.

"There was no source of ignition in that area: No electrical, no mechanical, no nothing," he said. "That having been said, a source of ignition had to be introduced."

Repairs could run as much as $75,000, Veazy said.

Firefighters took about an hour to put out the blaze after responding to a call at 7:39 p.m. Wednesday. No one was in the building at the time.

The investigation suggested someone might have gotten into the building through an open window, Veazy said.

Although agents with the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau and FBI were called in, "we very much want to let the local authorities lead the charge on this thing," Jones said.

The facility, owned by the church, holds extracurricular classes for students who want to study the church's beliefs. About 80 high school students were taking classes at the seminary, said LDS facility manager Matt Hansen.

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