UPDATE: Fire Set In Lindale Church’s Basement; Reward Increased To $10,000

| January 21, 2010

LINDALE — A passerby’s 911 call to authorities and Lindale Fire Department’s quick response are being credited with a church being saved after a fire was set in a basement area under the old sanctuary this morning.

Fire crews were dispatched shortly after 7:30 this morning to the Fellowship of Prairie Creek Bethesda House of Prayer at the intersection of Highway 69 and County Road 474 in Lindale.

When authorities arrived they found a glass door in the rear of the building broken and fire in an area of the basement where paint was stored.

“Our goal for 2010 was to go where we had never been before and be a church on fire for God. My husband now says maybe we should choose our words a little more carefully,” co-pastor Camilla Charles said as she and other members of her congregation stood in the parking lot watching firefighters, investigators, police and federal agents gather information from the scene.

Mrs. Charles’ husband Steven said the church has about 300 members and the location where the fire originated was in an area where paint and other chemicals were stored.

“I guess they really wanted to get this fire going, but thankfully a citizen saw the smoke and called the fire department. We have some fire damage in the basement and smoke damage, but it’s not like the other churches which have been lost,” he said.

Clay Alexander, Tyler senior agent in charge of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said his agency has increased the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible from $5,000 to $10,000.

“Due to the fire department getting here and making such a terrific stop we have our best crime scene since these fires started,” he said.

Alexander was talking about the string of church fires stretching from Athens to Tyler since Jan 1. In all, seven churches have been affected and ATF teams are sifting through the rubble of two Tyler churches in hopes of determining a cause and pointing to a suspect.

While the agency has not officially called the latest fires arson they have confirmed the three church fires in Athens were arson.

Officials are scheduled to meet with the media at 10:30 this morning to provide the latest information into the ongoing investigation.

If you have information about the fires contact the Tyler ATF office at 903-590-1475 or local law enforcement.



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Category: Church Security

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