The city assistant fire marshal determined the fire was suspicious and brought in Columbia police to assist in the investigation. No staff was at the clinic when the fire started.
A small fire early Sunday at Columbia’s Planned Parenthood clinic is being investigated as a suspicious blaze, the Columbia Police Department reported in a news release.
The Columbia Fire Department was called to the clinic at 4:06 a.m. Sunday and found “a light haze in the building,” the release stated. Additional units were dispatched and the investigation revealed the small fire had been extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system.
The city assistant fire marshal determined the fire was suspicious and brought in Columbia police to assist in the investigation. The release stated there is no additional information to release due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO Brandon Hill said no staff was at the clinic when the fire began.
“The building sustained some damage, but we appreciate the help of first responders in containing the fire,” Hill said.
The clinic will be closed Monday and will reopen as soon as possible, Hill said.
The clinic has been the target of regular protests, sometimes with only a handful of people and other times large, for years. The services offered at the clinic include pregnancy testing and counseling and reproductive health services.
“We are working with law enforcement, as the source of the fire is suspicious and the incident is currently under investigation,” Hill said. “Planned Parenthood Great Plains has a long history serving patients in Columbia, and we remain committed to providing a full range of sexual and reproductive health services in this community.”
The clinic has been fighting to regain its state license to provide abortions since abortions ended in October when a federal judge refused to block a state law requiring admitting privileges at a local hospital for physicians offering the service at the clinic.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to please contact the Columbia Police Department at 573-874-7652 or Crimestoppers at 573-875-8477 to remain anonymous.