American Legion arson 'same thing as domestic terrorism'

American Legion arson 'same thing as domestic terrorism' »Play Video

ALBANY, Ore. - Fire ripped through the American Legion hall on the Fourth of July, reducing the building to rubble and ash.

On Thursday, word spread: investigators determined the fire was intentionally set, and the arsonist remained at large.

"It's disgusting. This is about the same thing as domestic terrorism," James McCanlas, the post commander. "I mean we help homeless veterans, I mean ... who ... how dare anybody...ohh..."

Even with everything but memories burned to ashes, the American Legion hall is continuing their community service. The post operates out of a temporary modular building, and bingo nights are now played with the Eagles across town.



It saddens you and kind of angers you all at the same time, said Brock Bursey, the post's 2nd Vice Commander. "With everything that the clubs meant for the community and for youth programs and stuff and homeless vets it kind of leaves you in awe almost."

And they've pledged to rebuild - even though knowing the building was set on fire on purpose makes moving on a more difficult thing to do.

They would like to see their future facility built more family friendly--meeting the unique needs of many of their members.

"We're still waiting on insurance numbers," said McCanlas. "Then we're all going to have to get together all 11,050 of us and make a plan that we can all agree on."

"I'm a third generation legionnaire," said Bursey. "My grandfather was a part of this club, my mother. I've been part of this club for a long time--it's like a family."

The rubble remains, with a charred piano and the remains of a Bingo card visible among the ashes. Everything was destroyed by the fire, including the post's new heating system.

"It's parts of roof, and charred metal," said Bursey. "Not really a whole lot left." | See photos of the aftermath