ARSON ARREST: Ames Fire Intentionally Set
A 51-year-old Ames woman has been charged with arson in connection with fire at a Catholic student center Tuesday night in Ames.
The fire broke out around 9:30 p.m. and the student center usually stays open until midnight.
St. Thomas Aquinas Church in West Ames was full of students and staff when the fire alarm started sounding.
“We all got out pretty fast within five minutes and the flames started to go pretty high,” says Father Jim Dubert.
The students inside studying first thought it was a false alarm, before they walked around the building and saw the fire.
“We go over and the whole window is in flames, you could tell there was a couch covered in flames and a big plant next to it,” says church member Alicia Schnoebelen.
Crews found a fire on the second floor and were quickly able to get it under control, but not before the entire building filled with smoke.
“We were able to contain the fire quickly, but it did receive extensive smoke damage throughout the entire church in addition we did have some windows that were broken out,” says Deputy Ames Fire Chief Paul Sandoval.
Although the damage was contained to a small area upstairs, the entire church needs to be ventilated to help clear out the smoke.
Ames Police ruled the fire an arson and were able to make an arrest later that evening.
They say 51-year-old Tina Meyer of Ames was arrested and charged with first degree arson.
Father Dubert says he knows the suspect and the church was currently working to get her some help when she got upset.
“We’re praying for her to deal with those and get the help she needs. We’re grateful no one was hurt and also that the firemen were very professional in the way they took care of everything,” says Father Dubert.
Due to the fire, the church will be closed for about a week.
They are working with the other Catholic Church in town, St. Cecilia’s to hold joint services, while they repair the damages and clear out all the smoke damage throughout the building.
You can find out information about the changed services by visiting the churches website at,