State Fire Marshal and ATF Seeks Assistance in Stark County Church Arson Investigation

| March 20, 2010

Alliance, Ohio. — Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Division of State Fire Marshal today issued a request for the public’s assistance in an ongoing arson investigation in Stark County. The Division of State Fire Marshal, through the Blue Ribbon Arson Committee, is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for last Saturday’s church fire in Alliance. The ATF is offering an additional $5,000, bringing the total reward to $10,000.

The fire at Salem United Methodist Church, 14113 Salem Church Street N.E. in Alliance, was reported at 7:44 a.m. on March 13. The fire was ruled arson after investigators eliminated accidental causes and found evidence indicating the fire was intentionally set. The specifics of that evidence will not be released at this time as this is an ongoing criminal investigation.

Investigators say the blaze caused more than $200,000 damage to the main sanctuary and basement of the church.

"ATF is committed to pursuing arsonists that endanger firefighters and communities by their senseless actions. Anyone with information that can lead to identifying the person or persons responsible should contact ATF or the State Fire Marshals; you can make your community safer with a phone call" said Chris Sadowski, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, Columbus Field Division.

"Arson is a serious and potentially deadly crime that impacts and entire community," said Interim State Fire Marshal Don Cooper. "Someone has information about this fire, and we encourage them to come forward and provide details to investigators."

Anyone having information should call the ATF 24/7 hotline 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473) or the Blue Ribbon Arson hotline 1-800-589-2728.

ATF is the federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction for investigating crimes of arson. More information on ATF and its programs can be found at

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