Fire hits church for second time since Saturday

| March 8, 2010

EUGENE, Ore. — Two small suspicious fires broke out early Monday morning at a church, the second time this weekend the church suffered what appear to be arson fires — and at least the fourth suspicious fire in as many days.

The Eugene Faith Center hired private security to monitor the building at 13th and Polk after someone set fire to a modular building at the Eugene Faith Center and destroyed six church offices late Saturday night.

Around 4:20 a.m., security officers spotted a suspicious person near the church. The person was gone by the time police arrived.

Then at 6:38 a.m., the security officers found a small fire burning on the south side of the building. Police officers found a second fire burning on the north side of the church.

Eric Klinko with the Eugene Police Department said arson investigators were on scene Monday morning gathering evidence. The fires were set in areas with access underneath the structures and produced a lot of smoke but didn't do severe damage, Klinko said.

"This individual or the individuals who are responsible for this are not likely to stop until they are caught," Klinko said.

The pastor of the church said the fires have caused great stress for the staff and congregation as well as the community.

"We're pretty confident it isn't just targeted at us," said Jim Thomas, pastor of Eugene Faith Center.

On Sunday, investigators said they were trying to determine if a string of suspicious fires were related.

* The first fire broke out Friday at Wetlands Pub on Garfield Street in Eugene.

* The second fire was Saturday night just a few blocks away at Eugene Faith Center.

* Less than twelve hours after the fire at Faith Center, someone set a fire at a construction site owned by St. Vincent de Paul. The project includes 35 low-income housing units.

On Monday morning, another fire was reported, again at the Eugene Faith Center.

On Sunday, the Eugene Police Department said it was too early to tell if the three fires were connected. But Randy DeWitt, a Eugene Fire Department investigator, told KVAL News they were all set the same way and all within in a mile of each other.

Details of how Monday morning's fire broke out were not yet available.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available Monday.

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Category: Church Security

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