LAYTON — Police and fire officials are investigating a fire and possible arson that took place at a Layton church on Monday afternoon.
Fire officials were dispatched at 3:08 p.m. Monday to an address in Layton after a fire was reported at 1715 W. 1600 North, according to Layton Fire Battalion Chief Jason N. Cook. Once firefighters arrived, they found the building was a church for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Cook said that much of the flames were extinguished by church missionaries once fire crews arrived.
A group of 15 to 20 missionaries were playing football in a nearby field when a handful of them walked into the church to use the restroom, Cook said. Once inside, they found smoke in the building and the smell of fire. They quickly found that inside the church’s cultural hall a curtain on the stage was on fire, and a handful of missionaries grabbed fire extinguishers to put out the flames, Cook said.
Another group of missionaries at the scene reportedly saw people running away from the church and get into a car. Though they chased after the people leaving the church, those at the church were unable to get a description of the car or the people who were running away.
Cook went on to say that the damage to the church was limited to the curtain that caught fire and the subsequent clean up. The damage is estimated to be around $6,000. It also took fire crews nearly two hours to ventilate the building and remove the lingering smoke. Cook said the fire could have been started by igniting paper before the curtain was set ablaze.
A pinboard near the entrance of the church had a number of fliers and papers ripped down that could have possibly been used to start the fire.
Cook gave credit to the missionaries for putting out the fire so quickly, and he added that they certainly helped the fire from spreading to other parts of the room and building.
Cook also said that the church was not equipped with security cameras, and searches for surveillance footage from nearby cameras was unfruitful.
No suspects or persons of interest have been made public as of Tuesday morning.