TUALATIN -- Two 13-year-old boys in Tualatin were arrested Monday following a major fire at a church.
The three-alarm fire hit the Living Savior Lutheran Church and Preschool in Tualatin at 8740 SW Sagert Street.
A tip from a "concerned citizen" helped federal and local arson investigators follow leads during the day that led to the arrests, said Lt. Greg Pickering.
The boys were taken to a juvenile facility and held on accusations of first-degree arson and second-degree burglary, he said.
In court Tuesday, prosecutors said the boys used a master key to get inside the church and ransacked the place, as they looked for money to steal. Then, they allegedly lit a fire in a church office and fled.
Much of the 30-year-old school building was damaged and firefighters used a defensive approach to try and save the newer sanctuary, according to a Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue official.
The charges against the juveniles include Measure 11 crimes, but because they are younger than 15, the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines will not apply if they are convicted.
Pastor Nathan Brandt said despite the massive damage, there was much to be thankful for because no one was hurt.
"The people of this congregation are very precious. The building can be replaced," Brandt said. "It'll be okay. We'll make it."
An initial effort to enter with building with hoses was called off because of the thick flames and concerns about the building's structural integrity. Hot spots continued to flare up in attic spaces after the initial fire was put down.
"This was an intense fire to fight because, within minutes of our arrival, the fire was already spreading into the building's attic and a number of void spaces between walls and additions to the structure, complicating the fire fight," said TVF&R Public Information Officer Brian Barker. "Our firefighters battled this fire for hours from both the inside and outside of the structure."
Construction on the sanctuary took place through 2008, with the first service on July 26, 2009.
About 75 students attend the preschool. The fire started in the school.
Brandt said other churches have already offered up space for services but for the time being, the 600-member congregation was without a place to worship or a preschool for the children.
According to TVF&R, 91 fires were set by juveniles in 2011 alone within the 210 square miles they cover in the southwest part of the Metro area.