Investigators say the fire that destroyed a Sikh temple in Reno Monday night may have been set to cover up another crime. For it's members loss of the building itself is only the beginning.
Fire engulfed the cinder block structure late Monday night leaving an empty shell.
Investigators believe burglars broke into the temple and a nearby home then set the fire to cover up their crime.
The next morning members of the small congregation gathered to survey the damage.
There was little left. The building gutted. Those who worshipped here for years suddenly lost without a spiritual home, but the cruelest blow was the loss of the temple's sacred books which Sikhs regard with special reverence. One temple member likened to it losing a beloved relative.
"You can't explain it," says Balwinder Singh. "It's like when my mom died several years ago, when I heard about this it hurt more. Other losses are recoverable through our insurance. This special loss is not."
New books will be escorted from another temple in Sacramento by a committee with considerable ceremony in the coming days. Their eventual destination is, for the moment, up in the air.
There is another Sikh Temple in Reno, but Singh says this congregation of 30 to 40 souls wants to stay together and there will be a Sunday worship. Just where that will happen still isn't known.
"Community halls, a friend or a members home. We don't know."
Among the offers of help received by the congregation–the use of a Unitarian Church in south Reno.
Eventually plans are to rebuild on thie Second and Locust site, perhaps using a temporary prefab building in the meantime.
One way or the other, Singh says, the community will stay and worship together.
Secret Witness is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible. Their number is 322-4900. Callers may remain anonymous.
Category: Temple Security (Hindu and Sikh)