UPDATED: Feds Join Riverside Church Fire Probe

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.

Federal agencies including Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) are joining local and state investigators in the case of a “suspicious” fire early Tuesday morning at a Groveland Street church building, according to Haverhill police.

ATF “has joined the investigation” into the 3:25 a.m., Tuesday exterior fire at Riverside Memorial Church, 278 Groveland St. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has “offered their assistance as well,” Haverhill Police Captain Robert P. Pistone told WHAV Wednesday.  The latest development comes as State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey determined the fire at Riverside Memorial Church was “intentionally set.”  A reward is also being offered for information.

As WHAV first reported Tuesday morning, the church fire damaged the east side of the building, including vinyl siding which had melted from the heat of the flames. No injuries were reported.

“The investigation team has determined the fire was intentionally set on the exterior of the building. Fortunately, there was not an extensive amount of damage to the church,” Jennifer L Mieth, spokesperson for the state Fire Marshal’s office told WHAV.

Investigators are urging anyone with information to call the arson hotline at (800) 682-9229. All calls are confidential and people may call 24-hours-a-day, she said. The hotline is part of the Arson Watch Reward Program, sponsored by insurance companies, which provides up to $5,000.