Arson suspected in fire at Palin's church

WASILLA - A Friday night fire at Gov. Sarah Palin's church caused an estimated $1 million in damage, and investigators say it could be the work of an arsonist.

Firefighters were called to Wasilla Bible Church about 9:40 p.m. and found flames and smoke coming out windows at the back of the three-story structure, said James Steele, chief of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department.

Five women, and possibly a couple of children, were inside the church working on crafts, but everyone got out safely after a fire alarm alerted them to trouble, Steele said.

It was the biggest fire the department has seen this year, and Steele said as many as 35 to 40 volunteer firefighters came from across the region to battle the blaze.

"We are definitely treating it as suspicious and as potential arson at this point," he said.

Steele declined to say why investigators believe the fire might have been set deliberately, or whether accelerants were found on the scene.

Nothing thus far suggests any political motivation for the fire, the chief said.

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