Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fires strike 2 more east Texas churches

clipped from www.usatoday.com
Firefighters respond to a blaze at Dover Baptist Church in Smith County, Texas, on Monday. This fire is the latest in a rash of East Texas church fires, most of which have been ruled arson.
DALLAS (AP) — State and federal law enforcement agencies were vigorously working Tuesday to try to find out who has been setting fire to churches in eastern Texas.

Fire broke out at two churches about three miles apart Monday night in a rural area northwest of Tyler, which is about 85 miles southeast of Dallas. Investigators have not confirmed them as arson, but they were reported within an hour of one another and eight other churches have been intentionally torched in the state since the start of the year.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is leading the investigation into the string of arsons. Agency spokesman Tom Crowley said Tuesday it's too early to conclude the latest fires were arson.

There were no injuries reported in either fire, but the damage to both churches appeared to be extensive, said Hale, who worked at both fire scenes until about 3 a.m. Tuesday.

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

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