Man arrested after fire starts in Eugene church

| June 8, 2010

Pastor Mark Harpham said he doesn’t know Justin Klein — the man police suspect of breaking into Harpham’s church Sunday evening and setting a fire that damaged some items and filled much of the building with smoke.

“I don’t know who he is, so I don’t think this was a personal thing,” said Harpham, who has worked 29 years for Eugene Christian Fellowship at 89780 N. Game Farm Road.

Eugene fire crews went to the church northeast of the city limits just after 6 p.m. Sunday after a fire alarm sounded there.

The building’s interior sprinklers worked to extinguish the blaze before flames spread from a hallway near an entrance to other sections of the church, officials said.

Firefighters arrived in time to see a man run from the building. Lane County sheriff’s deputies, with help from a police dog, responded a short time later and searched the area but did not find a suspect.

Residents of the neighborhood surrounding the church identified Klein as a possible suspect, and police tracked down and arrested the 34-year-old Sixes, Ore., resident Monday morning at the corner of 18th and Main streets in Springfield, sheriff’s Sgt. Jon Campbell said.

Investigators did not say why Klein allegedly targeted the church. Harpham said he has no idea what the motive may have been.

“It would be interesting to know what was going on in (the suspect’s) head,” Harpham said.

Harpham said no one was at the church when someone broke two glass doors to get inside the building. He said the intruder may have used a lighter to set fire to church brochures stacked atop a table located in a hallway near an entrance.

Harpham said that while few items were actually burned, many more suffered smoke damage. The building is insured, he said.

Harpham and fire officials said they do not have an actual monetary damage estimate in the incident.

Klein is being held in Lane County Jail on felony charges of first-degree arson, first-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief.

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Category: Church Security

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