ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - Gov. Sarah Palin's home church was badly damaged by a fire, leading the governor to apologize if the blaze was connected to "undeserved negative attention" from her failed campaign as the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Damage to the Wasilla Bible Church was estimated at $1 million, authorities said Saturday. No one was injured in the fire, which was set Friday night while a handful of people, including two children, were inside, according to Central Mat-Su Fire Chief James Steele.
He said the blaze was being investigated as an arson but he didn't know of any recent threats to the church. Authorities didn't know whether Palin's connection to the church was relevant to the fire, Steele said.
"It's hard to say at this point. Everything is just speculation," he said. "We have no information on intent or motive." Steele would not comment on the means used to set the fire.
Pastor Larry Kroon declined to say whether the church had received any recent threats. "There are so many variables," he said. "I don't want to comment in that direction."
Palin, who was not at the church at the time of the fire, stopped by Saturday.
The 1,000-member evangelical church was the subject of intense scrutiny after Palin was named John McCain's running mate. Early in Palin's campaign, the church was criticized for promoting in a Sunday bulletin a Focus on the Family "Love Won Out Conference" in Anchorage. The conference promised to "help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome."