Investigators rule arson in Temple church fire

| January 30, 2010

Temple investigators have ruled the cause of the Temple First Baptist Church fire as arson.

Crews were initially dispatched to the scene around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Temple Fire Marshal said they are looking at security footage taken from surveillance cameras at the church.

"There were security cameras around the building and at other buildings and that is something that we are looking at," said ATF agent Michael Reyes.

The fire caused heavy damage to the church sanctuary and an adjoining building. Other buildings on the church campus were damaged by smoke and water.

A report of their findings will be sent to another team in East Texas where there have been reports of six church fires in the Tyler and Dallas areas which have also been ruled arson.

Officials have ruled the cause of the Temple First Baptist Church fire as arson.

"We're not going to say that this is related to that. We're not going to discount that either. That's something that we're going to have to have both investigative teams look at."

Whether the church will be able to be rebuilt is up in the air.

"It's going to be something that will end up in the hands of the insurance people, the church and different people that deal with construction," said Temple Fire Chief Lonzo Wallace.

Despite the news, First Baptist Church Pastor Martin Knox expressed gratitude towards the investigators.

"An event like this one reminds us of the mission Jesus Christ has given us as a church. He commissioned us to share his love with others and tell them about him. We continue to be on that mission in the days ahead of us," said Pastor Knox.

They say they'll be on that mission wherever they find themselves worshipping.

Statement from Pastor Martin Knox

The news that has just been shared with you brings great sadness to me and our entire church family. We continue to work in full cooperation with the Temple Fire Department and the law enforcement in this ongoing investigation. We are thankful for their hard work that has discovered this information. We are also thankful for the outstanding professionalism they have shown to us during this very difficult time. We are thankful for the outpouring of support from our community and for all of the prayers. Please continue to pray for us.

The Sunday before and the one following the fire I preached from Psalms that refer to God as King. It has been a great reminder to us that God is on His throne and we can trust Him. An event like this one reminds us of the mission Jesus Christ has given us as a church. He commissioned us to share His love with others and tell them about Him. We continue to be on that mission in the days ahead of us. Over the last year our church has been focused on a campaign called “Greater Things.” We truly believe that “Greater Things” are yet to come as we share the Love of Christ with Temple, Central Texas and beyond.

 

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Category: Church Security