GRESHAM, Ore. (AP) — Federal law enforcement is investigating a fire that broke out on Friday morning at an anti-abortion center in a suburb east of Portland.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said on Twitter that they considered the fire at a First Image Pregnancy Resource Center in Gresham to be “suspicious in nature.” KOIN-TV reported that the fire began at around 3 a.m. on Friday morning and that the investigation would involve multiple agencies.
“Gresham Police, Gresham Fire, ATF, and the FBI are all involved in the investigation at this time,” Gresham Fire Battalion Chief Jason McGowan told the station. “Because it’s suspicious, in each structure fire we collect evidence, that evidence is then sent off to be processed, and once that process is over, we should have more information.”
Pregnancy resource centers like the one in Gresham are clinics that typically provide free services and counsel clients against having abortions. Many are religiously affiliated and most are not licensed medical facilities.
The fire comes amid increasing tension and nationwide polarization over abortion that has arisen since a U.S. Supreme Court draft decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade leaked in May. Fire broke out at another anti-abortion center in upstate New York earlier this week and police are investigating a May arson fire in at a women’s health clinic that plans to open and provide abortions in Casper, Wyoming.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security published a memo warning of increasing threats of civil unrest and violence surrounding the looming Supreme Court decision.