ROSE, Idaho (AP) — A ward house belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was burned by arsonists who piled up charred furniture at the front entrance and set the structure afire.
The ward bishop, Ken Wixom, discovered the blackened walls, cracked glass and melted light fixtures inside the Rose Ward House seven miles north of Blackfoot when he arrived to prepare for Sunday services at about 7 a.m.
The building had been remodeled before Christmas.
A couch, bench and table had stacked together and a black streak in the new blue carpet extended the length of a hallway to the furniture pile, apparently following a trail of some flammable liquid.
“This is just vicious,” said Rose 1st Ward Bishop Kent Taylor. “When I got the call this morning, I thought someone was playing a game. No, it’s the real McCoy.”
Taylor said whoever is responsible got in by smashing glass panes on a north wing door of the house. A ward house is the Mormon’s name for a church.
Blackfoot Fire Chief Kevin Gray said the fire was extinguished by itself and was cold when the church leaders arrived. He said the church sustained little structural damage but substantial smoke damage.
“They’ll be out for quite a while,” Gray said.
Gray said the fire’s cause is under investigation.
Members of the church moved back into the building shortly after Christmas.
The bricks lining the halls, which were repainted a fresh white during the remodel, were charred and peeling in the corridor. Soot covered a glass display case depicting where young church members had gone on their missions.
The sanctuary, which contains the pews, organ and altar, was unharmed.