Detectives say arson to blame for church fire

| June 29, 2010

SCOTLAND COUNTY, N.C. — Investigators say arson is to blame for a fire Sunday at a church in Scotland County. This is not the first time someone has vandalized the Oak Grove Baptist Church this month.

"I don't know why in the world somebody would want to do something like that to a church," said Clarence Bowen, an honorary deacon with the church.

For more than 126 years, the church has stood in Scotland County near the South Carolina border. The news that someone is now trying to burn it down is a shock to some.

"It was heartbreaking, I just cried and prayed,” said parishioner Christine Clark. “It was very devastating."

Fire burned the front of the building at the door. Vinyl siding lay draped over the handrails, where it had melted off the front the building. Inside, flames scorched the wall near the main entrance and burned several of the pews. A layer of soot covered the rest of the building.

Officials estimate the damages to the building to be around $100,000.

Clark and several other members came together Tuesday afternoon to clean soot off tables and chairs inside the fellowship hall.

"[We are] trying to get things where we can have service on Sunday. That is what keeps us," said Clark.

Authorities say this is not time the only time someone has vandalized the church. The first attack came on June 9 when someone came and broke out the windows of the fellowship hall. The second attack was on June 13 when someone set several small fires at the base of the door. Two weeks later, someone set the fires again, this time they succeeded in catching the church on fire.

"A thing like that is awful, it is an awful crime to commit," said Bowen.

The Scotland County Sheriff's Office is working with the SBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to find the people responsible.

"Whoever who it is, they will have to answer to God, not to me," said Bowen.

Either way, he believes justice will be done.

If you have information on the fire…

Authorities are asking if anyone has information about the church arson, to call Scotland County Crimestoppers at (910) 291-3333.

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Category: Church Security

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