Saturday, October 16, 2010

LDS Chapel In Mukilteo, Washington Destroyed By Fire, Two Wards With A Total Of 800 Members Displaced; Arson Now Officially Suspected

Update October 18th: See updated post HERE for new information and some corrected old information.

Many more photos at the KOMO-TV website
A chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mukilteo, Washington was completely destroyed by fire on October 16th, 2010. Two different wards or congregations numbering a total of approximately 800 members have been temporarily displaced from a house of worship as a result. Media stories published by KIRO Channel 7, the Mukilteo Beacon, and the Everett Herald; now picked up by KSL Channel 5.

The Mukilteo chapel, located at 11001 Harbour Pointe Blvd in Mukilteo, was home to both the Harbour Pointe Ward and the Beverly Park Ward. The alarm was first phoned in at 2:59 A.M., although it is now believed the fire may have been burning for two hours beforehand, based upon the statement of a nearby resident who said she heard what sounded like fireworks just after midnight. The first fire units arrived six minutes later and found the chapel fully involved, with flames coming up the middle and then spreading to both sides. The roof ultimately collapsed and the building was completely destroyed by the time the fire was effectively brought under control around 5 A.M. The fire was confined to the chapel and did not spread to any nearby structures. A total of 44 personnel responded, including three engines, four ladders, four paramedics, six chief officers, and seven support teams. Besides Mukilteo, units from Fire District 1, Everett and Lynnwood responded. The chapel was unoccupied and there were no casualties; it was not equipped with a sprinkler system. The building's value was assessed at $1.6 million. Update: The Seattle Times has since published a figure of $3.3 million.

Brian McMahan, assistant fire chief with the Mulkiteo Fire Department, at first said he was not sure of the cause, but says sprinklers would have saved the building from destruction. "This building was built before sprinklers were required. Sprinklers are designed to keep the fire in check to let firefighters go in and fight a small fire, or at least control the contained fire. With the peaked roof, they need to fight underneath to get the fire out and that's why it continues to burn," he said. However, McMahan later said that it appears the fire was deliberately set, explaining that it started on the exterior, by the rear entry in the middle of the building.

Church officials chose not to speak with the media or disclose alternative meeting plans at the time. However, what normally happens is that Church officials, most likely the stake presidency, will determine if there are any nearby LDS chapels which can accommodate the displaced congregants. A search of the Meetinghouse Locator on reveals that there are two other LDS chapels within a five-mile radius; one located at 17321 44th Avenue West in Lynnwood, and another at 9509 19th Avenue Southeast in Everett. Each chapel already hosts three wards, so it'll be a tight squeeze. But it's not unheard of for four wards to use a single chapel; the three-hour time blocks simply mean the first ward meets as early as 7:00 A.M. while the last ward meets as late as 4:00 P.M. By staggering the meeting times, adequate parking is assured. Most likely the Harbour Pointe Ward will be assigned to one chapel, while the Beverly Park Ward will be assigned to another chapel. Update: Both wards will be attending services at a different chapel located at 110 50th Street Southwest in Everett.

Another possible alternate location is an additional chapel currently hosting only two wards available at 7950 228th Street Southwest in Everett, just six miles southwest. A $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the fire is being offered by the Arson Alarm Foundation and the Washington Insurance Council. Tips may be reported by calling 1-800-55-ARSON.

Construction of a replacement chapel can take anywhere from 12-18 months, depending upon a multitude of factors.


Who said...

I can't believe that some people out there actually feel good about burning down churches. We've been following the blows since Prop 8 down in California: temples under siege by mobs of angry SSM supporters, vandalism of chapels and houses, threats, and now this.

I keep saying that if gay marriage supporters are trying to win over public opinion, they are not doing a very good job. It is becoming increasingly clear to everyone that they are not interested in a peaceful, family-friendly society. They are not accepting of differing points of view. And most of all, they do not believe in the rule of law or democracy. They are willing to trample on parental and religious freedom rights and put millions of children at risk in an attempt to make themselves feel better about their deviant life choices by forcing us to accept them as legitimate. We must never allow that to happen.

Anonymous said...

My sister and her husband just moved into that ward and I am sad to see someone set their church on fire. However the member who thinks gay marriage supporters started the fire is an idiot. It was probably a troubled teen ager who would have picked any building to torch.