EL PASO- An arsonist armed with two gasoline cans set fire to furniture, walls and floors during a raid just after midnight Monday at the El Paso Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, a 100-year-old heritage building in downtown El Paso.
The El Paso Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire. Fire damage assessments are being compiled and no arrests have been made, an EPFD spokesperson said.
On its Facebook page, the organization noted that at 12:33 a.m., an arsonist broke through a side door on Missouri Street with fuel.
The building is a meeting place for the fraternal order of Freemasons and was built in the early 1920s, making it one of the oldest buildings in downtown El Paso. The building is known for a pair of sphinx statues guarding its entrance, installed in 1966.
Scottish Rite Temple 301 W. Missouri Ave. and located on Santa Fe Street, next to the El Paso Chihuahuas baseball stadium. The history of the Scottish Rite in El Paso dates back to 1883.
The suspected arsonist went into the lobby, littered the furniture and floor, and set the place on fire. Further, he escaped through another side door, the agency said in a press release.
“The fire alarm went off, and the fire department was dispatched,” says the El Paso Scottish Rite.
Around 5 a.m., the El Paso Fire Department was called to the scene and tweeted that the fire was a condition 2.
“Upon arrival, firefighters found several rooms engulfed in flames, particularly on the lower level, through a side entrance,” EPFD spokesman Enrique Duenas said.
The fire department also followed up on their initial tweet, saying the fire was out, no injuries were reported, and crews were searching for access points.
Ten units and 27 firefighters responded to the incident, and fire marshal investigators were called to assist.
According to a spokesperson, the Fire Marshal’s Office is continuing to investigate to find the person responsible.
The structure says that the building will be fine. However, they are yet to determine the extent of the damage.
“We’re still without utilities until the forensic team is done and we’re cleared,” El Paso Scottish Wright said.
For any tips about the fire, the community can contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 915-212-5699.
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