LOCAL NEWS

Fire at St. George Stake Center now a “Criminal Investigation”

Jan 26, 2019, 9:36 PM | Updated: 10:54 pm

ST. GEORGE, Utah – A Saturday morning drive is what many residents do in St. George.

But the drive Michelle Tooke Saturday morning was far from relaxing. “I got in my car and came down,” she said. “It’s devastating.”

When she pulled up to 300 east at about 500 south, she knew what she had read on Facebook just a few minutes before was true.

“It’s got wrenching. I started crying because they work so hard on this,” said Tooke while looking at the building still smoldering.

The brand new stake center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, across the street from the St. George Temple, began burning at about 1 o’clock Saturday morning.

Construction on the building was set to be finished in about a month.

Now, construction crews will have to start all over again.

“People coming up to me sitting in my car, crying and devastated. And we are hugging each other saying can you believe this? Can you believe this? And no you really can’t,” said Tooke.

Church members were close with each other anyway.

Tragedy seems to always have a way of bringing people closer.

“This is really devastating,” said John Gordon, who lives in St. George and came to the church to see what was left of it. “I mean, I know there’s a lot going on in the world, but this is really close to home.”

The fire itself was tough for firefighters.

Especially after the ceiling and roof collapsed.

“We pulled all of our crews outs and went to a defense of operation,” said Robert Stoker, who is the chief of the St. George Fire Department.

But once the fire was out, the investigation began.

After fire investigators spent hours going through what we left, they say, it looks like someone started the fire.

“We are treating it as a criminal investigation right now,” said Tiffany Atkin, an officer and spokesperson for the St. George Police Department. “This is based on some evidence we found where there’s no heat or electrical reasoning for that fire to start there.”

Even still, the damage is done.

“We’re really resilient. We just pick up and move on and we know the plan,” said Gordon.

That plan now includes building it all again.

“Rather you believe, or if you are at this faith, the Mormon faith, or not, it still doesn’t matter,” said Tooke. “This is still sacred ground.”

The biggest questions now are who did this and why?

Police officers and firefighters would certainly like to know.

They’re asking anybody with any information to give them a call.

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

FILE: Crews drop fire retardant on the Jacob City Fire on July 9. (UWCNF)...
Michael Houck

Charges dropped against man who allegedly started Jacob City Fire

Tooele county attorneys have dropped the charges against the man who allegedly started a 4,000-acre wildfire over the summer. 
18 hours ago
The Tokyo Japan Temple seen from the Arisugawanomiya Memorial Park in Tokyo on Sunday, July 3, 2022...
Madison Swenson

Locations of 6 international temples released

The locations of six new international temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been released.
18 hours ago
Topgolf Vineyard rendering...
Cary Schwanitz

Utah’s second Topgolf location to open Friday

Topgolf is ready to open its second Utah location later this week.
18 hours ago
handcuffs...
Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Clearfield man faces capital charges in killings of grandparents

A Clearfield man accused of shooting and killing his elderly grandparents the day before Thanksgiving was charged Monday with two capital offenses.
18 hours ago
...
Eliza Pace

How to track snowplows in Utah

Did you know there's a way to track snowplows and their current location in Utah?
18 hours ago
(Mountain Green Fire Protection District)...
Karah Brackin

Utah fire chief calls small plane crash, with surviving pilot, a miracle

It’s a series of miracles that lead a Utah pilot to not only survive but find help after crashing a small plane.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Fire at St. George Stake Center now a “Criminal Investigation”