Thursday, February 11, 2010

10 Texas church fires under investigation

clipped from
A firefighter shoots water at the steeple of Russell Memorial United Methodist Church in Wills Point, Texas, on Feb. 4.
Pastor Carl Samples says his flock's faith hasn't wavered, even after their sanctuary was destroyed in the latest in a string of East Texas church fires that authorities say were deliberately set.

"I think it's drawn us closer together. It's just kind of increased our faith," said Samples, whose Dover Baptist Church was a total loss but for the steeple that survived the blaze Monday night.

Investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined state and local fire officials this week in sifting through the charred remains for clues at Dover and at another church 3 miles away, Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church, which was reported on fire a short time later. Both churches serve a rural area outside Tyler, Texas.

"They were big ones. They're not to the ground, but they'll be total losses," he said.

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