UPDATE: Boy, 14, suspect in fire at Mesa church

Posted: Updated:

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- A teenager is facing charges following an investigation into a fire that caused $500,000 damage to a Mesa church last month.

Teen facing charges

One person was in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses when the fire began Feb. 12, and firefighters say he attempted to douse the flames with a hose before they arrived. He wasn't injured.

An investigation showed that the fire started in an outside trash bin and then spread to the building at 645 N. Horne, which sustained major damage to the interior and roof area.

Assistant Mesa Fire Chief Mary Cameli says investigators on Wednesday charged a 14-year-old boy with one count of reckless burning, alleging he set the fire in the trash bin. The unidentified boy was referred to juvenile court authorities.

UPDATE: Feb. 17, 2009:

MESA - Investigators from the Mesa Fire Department say they are now investigating a fire at Mesa Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall as a possible arson.

Investigators and an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms are attempting to gather information from neighboring areas for possible leads.

Anyone with information on the blaze is asked to call the Arson hotline at 1-800-352-7766.


MESA -- Mesa firefighters responded to a building fire at 645 N. Horne.

Flames were seen shooting through the rooftop of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Mesa.

Firefighters say the fire started in a Dumpster. An elder tried to douse the fire with a hose, but the flames quickly spread into the attic of the building.

There was major damage to the interior and the roof. Police say there were no injuries and no one inside at the start of the fire.

Fire investigators are conducting interviews with neighbors and witnesses to see if they saw anything suspicious.

Meetings scheduled in the Kingdom Hall will be moved to other nearby churches.