Investigators Look For Leads, Congregation Looks To The Future

| May 7, 2010

TEMPLE (May 6, 2010)—Nearly four months has passed since the early-morning arson fire on Jan. 19 that destroyed the sanctuary, offices and fellowship hall of Temple’s First Baptist Church.

The 70-year-old sanctuary and the other gutted buildings were bulldozed in March, and the church’s pastor, Dr. Martin Knox, said Thursday the church continues to work out logistics with its insurance company while charting a course for the future.

"We are going to rebuild,” he said.

Investigators, meanwhile, are still tracking down leads in their search for the arsonist who set the destructive fire.

"The case still continues as an active open investigation,” said Temple Fire & Rescue spokesman Thomas Pechal.

“It's still being worked as a criminal investigation.

“The Fire Marshal’s office is still working leads, following leads as we receive them,” he said.

“It takes time.” Pechal said,

“Sometimes it takes longer than people would expect.”

Temple and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators found evidence in the rubble of the sanctuary that indicated the fire was deliberately set, but officials haven’t disclosed what the evidence is.

Investigators have not linked the Temple fire to a series of arson fires that damaged or destroyed churches in East Texas.

Two men have been arrested in connection with those fires.

A Temple police officer spotted the flames and reported the fire at 5:24 a.m. on Jan. 19, and a second alarm was requested within a few minutes of the arrival of the first Temple Fire and Rescue crews.

A third alarm was requested at 5:40 a.m., calling in all off-duty firefighters.

The roof of the church collapsed around 6:30 a.m. as crews battled the flames from all four sides.

Firewalls, which were installed in 2003, are believed to have helped protect the remainder of the building.

 

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Category: Church Security

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