ARLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Officials are seeking the public’s help for information about a fire that occurred early Tuesday morning inside the rectory building of the St. Athanasius The Great Greek Orthodox Church in Arlington, which was under renovation and unoccupied at the time.
Just before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, an Arlington Police officer observed smoke in the rectory of the church.
“There are few fire incidents more concerning than those that affect houses of worship,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “We want the community to know that we take this fire, and any fire at a place of worship, seriously.”
The investigation is being conducted by the Arlington Fire and Police Departments and the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshall’s office.
Anyone with information on the fire, its origin, or individuals involved is asked to call the Arson Watch Reward Program Hotline at 1-800-682-9229. The Arson Watch Reward Program is operated by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriters Association and offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information that solves or detects arson crimes. All calls are confidential. Tipsters may remain anonymous if they wish. Those with information may also contact the Arlington Police Department to speak with local investigators at 781-316-3910.
The church’s Board of Directors and Parish Council said in a statement that “(w)e are fortunate there were no injuries to any person, however emotional distress and deep concern is impacting our church family. These actions are unsettling to our Orthodox Faithful, and we ask God to hear our fervent prayer of healing for the individuals who committed these harmful, senseless acts.”
According to their statement, someone accessed the community center building through a basement window and set a fire in the basement, causing smoke damage within the interior of the building on all floors.
“Unfortunately, our community has been the victim of repeated violence, hatred, break-in(s) and malicious destruction of property at this location in the past,” they added.
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