Investigators get leads, but No Motive, in Palin Church Fire
UPDATE - Wasilla investigators have made no arrests, but say they have leads in the arson fire at Govenor Sarah Palin's home church.
Investigators are following leads and tips that may lead to a suspect or suspects in the Wasilla Bible Church fire, Wasilla Police Deputy Chief Greg Wood said.
As of Thursday, however, no arrests had been made.
The Wasilla Police Department took over as the lead investigating agency after firefighters extinguished the blaze last weekend. Wood said the WPD has received tips concerning who may have been responsible for the apparent arson and are following up on those tips.
James Steele, chief of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department, said the fire was “definitely suspicious” immediately following the blaze.
Shortly after local news organizations began reporting the fire, national news picked up the story because it’s the home church of Gov. Sarah Palin. Immediately, speculation the fire was politically motivated swirled around on cable news broadcasts and online news sites.
So far, however, officials investigating the fire say they’ve found no immediate connection to the fire being set for political reasons. Regardless, Palin apologized to Kroon shortly after the fire if it turns out her candidacy for vice president had anything to do with it.
Investigators say they've found several locations around Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's home church where fires were started, but they still have no idea of motive for the million-dollar blaze.
Accelerants were found in multiple locations on the outside of Wasilla Bible Church, including around entrances and exits, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Nick Starcevic, an ATF spokesman in Seattle, said it was not yet clear what type of accelerant was used. Samples have been taken to the state crime lab in Anchorage for testing. It could be up to two weeks before investigators find out the results, said James Steele, who heads the Central Mat-Su Fire Department.
Five members of the church were inside when the fire was set, but they managed to escape.
Palin's ties to the church have sparked widespread speculation about whether the person who lit the fire was motivated by that connection. However, [Central Mat-Su Fire Department head James] Steele said that idea remains in the realm of pure speculation.
"At this point, there is no information that we have that even points in that direction," he said.