Arson Suspected at Abortion Clinic |
Friday, July 2, 1999; 12:54 p.m. EDT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. –– Arson was suspected in a fire early today at a clinic where abortions are performed. The blaze caused slight damage to the outside of the complex but no injuries were reported.
The fire at the Choice Medical Group was contained about 20 minutes after it was reported at 3:20 a.m., said fire dispatcher Tom Shotwell.
"We know only that it was an apparent arson," said FBI spokesman Nick Rossi.
Jim Hartley, division chief of the American River Fire Department, said the three of the four entrances to the two-story office complex housing the medical clinic were damaged by fire.
A trash bin in the rear of the building also was damaged, Hartley said.
"We are in the middle of a preliminary investigation. Despite a lot of speculation, we don't want to come out with a cause prior to more investigation," he said.
Shotwell had said earlier that an investigator at the scene told him it was a firebombing.
"If it's an arson attack on an abortion clinic, then I think everyone needs to be concerned," said Katherine Kneer, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.
"Whether or not you believe in a woman's right to abortion, it's an attack on Democratic principles that every American holds dear," she said.
Last month, arson fires were set at three synagogues in the Sacramento area, causing an estimated $1 million in damage. There have been no arrests.
Fires were set within minutes of each other June 18 at the 150-year-old B'nai Israel in Sacramento and two suburban temples, the Congregation Beth Shalom and the Kenesset Israel Torah Center. Anti-Jewish fliers were found at two of the sites.
Rossi would not speculate on any connection between the synagogue blazes and today's fire.
© 1999 The Associated Press