VANCOUVER -- Fire broke out early Friday morning in the former Landover Health Club, destroying the structure that was being remodeled into a temple for Portland-area followers of the Sikh faith.
Two contractors living in the structure at Northeast were not hurt. The building at 13400 NE 20th St. had been undergoing remodeling for two years.
Debris from the fire traveled a half-mile away, said Capt. Kevin Muray of Vancouver Fire.
Agents from the FBI and the ATF have been assigned to the investigation.
Sikhs, based in India, wear clothing that has been mistaken in the past as Muslim attire, opening them up to hate incidents around the U.S. It was not known early Friday morning whether the Sikh faith may have been a factor in the fire.
The cause of the fire at the temple, also called a gurdwara, remains under investigation.
The Guru Ramdass Sahib Ji Gurdwara serves up to 400 families, said Jaspreet Singh. The temple was scheduled to open in about a month, he said. Worshippers have been meeting in a temple just off I-5.
“We believe in God so if this happened maybe there was a reason," he said, "We’ll build another one. We'll rebuild and we’ll be up and running again.”