A massive fire in Vancouver ripped through an old athletic club that was being renovated into a Sikh temple Friday morning.
The fire, near 134th Avenue and 18th Street, broke out around 2:30 a.m.
At this point, there are no indications that the fire was a hate crime, but investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are looking into the fire and trying to help determine the cause, which is standard with any fire that involves a place of worship.
"It's very depressing; all of the community is crushed," said Sarabjeet Teja, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Guru Ram Das Sikh Community of Vancouver.
Renovations at the temple, which was formerly the Landover Athletic Club, had been going on during the past year. The Sikh Community has owned the building since 2007, according to firefighters. They had planned to open the new temple in the coming months.
"We were devastated," said Teja, upon learning of the fire. "We've been working on this project for a long time."
On Friday the burned out building remained to hot for investigators to get inside and begin their work. The debris still smoldered hours after the fire broke out.
"It was quite an inferno," said neighbor Roy Lawrence.
Another neighbor, Jeff Onder, called 911 after waking up to the sound of screaming.
"We saw two guys yelling and screaming, and flames in the central (part) part of the building, about 15 feet in the air," said Onder.
Investigators said two people - the general contractor and an assistant - were staying inside the building but managed to escape.
Those two people told fire officials they didn't know how the fire started, but they did not suspect foul play. Fire investigators, however, say it's far too early to say whether or not the fire is suspicious.
"We as a community need to know why and how it happened," said Teja.
Teja said the temple was insured. He said the community is now faced with rebuilding.
"We are a very tight-knit community," said Teja. "Everybody comes together in moments like this."
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
Saturday, December 7 2013 6:03 PM EST2013-12-07 23:03:39 GMT
A Marion County sheriff's deputy was shot during a confrontation with a suspect at a Christmas tree farm in Silverton. Salem police said the deputy is expected to survive the shooting, which happened atMore >
Police held a press conference to update the details of a chase and search that led to both the suspect and a deputy being shot near a Marion County Christmas tree farm on Friday.More >
Saturday, December 7 2013 5:23 PM EST2013-12-07 22:23:56 GMT
Just as dive teams resumed their search this morning for the driver of a pickup truck that drove into a Columbia slough on Friday, his brother walked up and said he was okay. The search that began a littleMore >
As dive teams resumed the search this morning for the driver of a pickup that rolled into a Columbia slough on Friday, his brother walked up to say his sibling was OK.More >
Sunday, December 8 2013 10:40 AM EST2013-12-08 15:40:12 GMT
Thirteen-year-old Samantha Dodson, a missing girl who was in the company of a 40-year-old man, has been found safe just outside of Oregon City. Clackamas County deputies did not release any additionalMore >
A 13-year-old missing girl who was in the company of a 40-year-old man known to her family has been found safe just outside of Oregon City.More >
Sunday, December 8 2013 11:32 AM EST2013-12-08 16:32:39 GMT
The Portland Fire Bureau and PGE crews are on the scene of an electrical fire in a substation underneath Southwest Taylor Street. All traffic, which included TriMet buses and MAX, was shut down alongMore >
The Portland Fire Bureau and PGE crews responded to an electrical fire downtown this morning that started with an explosion in a substation underneath Southwest Taylor Street.More >
Sunday, December 8 2013 12:33 AM EST2013-12-08 05:33:52 GMT
Vancouver police want to find a five-month-old baby reportedly taken from a Child Protection Services worker by her parents.It started on Nov. 27 when CPS were supposed to take custody of the child dueMore >
Vancouver police have located a 5-month-old baby that was considered endangered.More >
Friday, December 6 2013 10:37 PM EST2013-12-07 03:37:28 GMT
Oregon State Police responded to a critically injury crash that completely blocked Highway 30 near Clatskanie on Friday.Paramedics and police were at the scene at milepost 66 as of 12:45 p.m.There's noMore >
Oregon State Police responded to a fatal crash that completely blocked Highway 30 near Clatskanie on Friday.More >
Saturday, December 7 2013 3:25 PM EST2013-12-07 20:25:52 GMT
According to police, an officer jumped out of the way of a speeding vehicle that ultimately smashed his cruiser. The collision occurred at about 12:42 a.m. near the intersection of Southeast 170th AvenueMore >
According to police, an officer jumped out of the way of a speeding vehicle that ultimately smashed his cruiser. More >
Thursday, December 5 2013 3:43 PM EST2013-12-05 20:43:54 GMT
A case of measles has been confirmed in a child at Harmony Elementary School in Vancouver. The onset of the child's rash was Nov. 24 and he was at school the following day, according to the Clark CountyMore >
A case of measles has been confirmed in a child at Harmony Elementary School in Vancouver.More >