'Suspicious' Fire at Planned Parenthood Considered Arson - NBC Bay Area
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'Suspicious' Fire at Planned Parenthood Considered Arson

Investigators are checking surveillance cameras in an effort to identify the person who started the fire

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fire officials were investigating a "suspicious" fire that started in the lobby of a Planned Parenthood in Thousand Oaks. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Published Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015)

    A fire that broke out Wednesday night at a Planned Parenthood building in Thousand Oaks, California, is considered a case of arson, sheriff's investigators confirmed.

    The fire was reported around 11:27 p.m. in the 1200 block of West Hillcrest Drive and likely started when someone tossed a container with a flammable liquid through a window, investigators with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said. Firefighters responded and found a small fire burning in the lobby, which activated the sprinkler system, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

    The sprinkler system put out the fire, which caused minimal damage, firefighters said. More significant damage was caused by water from the sprinkler system, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

    Jenna Tosh, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties, said the location will remain closed Thursday. The same location was targeted by vandals in August, Tosh said.

    "It's always very disappointing whenever you hear that something like this has happened," Tosh said.

    Firefighters said the fire was "suspicious" and intentionally set. A rock was likely used to smash a window, said Detective Tim Lohman, of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

    "An incident like this, obviously they're trying to get a point across -- whatever that point might be," said Lohman. "Our job is to make sure the community is safe."

    Sheriff's Capt. John Reilly said someone wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a face mask was recorded by surveillance cameras, according to The Associated Press.

    Employees for Planned Parenthood were at the office Thursday morning assessing the damage from the fire and trying to reschedule appointments.

    No injuries were reported.

    Authorities said they were investigating if the Planned Parenthood office in Thousand Oaks received any recent threats.

    The health center provides cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted disease tests and other services. Planned Parenthood has faced recent criticism and congressional backlash for its practice of supplying tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research.

    NBC4's Corey Arvin contributed to this report.