Fires Thought to Be Intentionally Set Claim 2 more Churches in East Texas

February 10, 2010

The rash of church fires that has beset East Texas since the beginning of the year has claimed two more in the Tyler area. Federal investigators are sorting through the latest two to see if they were set intentionally.

The fires were reported within an hour of each other on the night of Feb. 8 at churches about three miles apart in a rural area northwest of Tyler, about 85 miles southeast of Dallas.

No injuries were reported at Dover Baptist Church or Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church.

U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Tom Crowley said it’s too early in the latest investigation to reach any sort of conclusions.

Authorities are conducting arson investigations involving at least eight churches in Texas that have burned since the beginning of the year.

Investigators said a church fire on Feb. 4 in Wills Point, about 50 miles east of Dallas, was arson. That brought to seven the number of church fires in east Texas since Jan. 1 that have been ruled arson.

In central Texas, federal agents concluded arson caused a fire in January that destroyed the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Temple.

No injuries were reported in the Feb. 8 blazes at Dover Baptist Church and Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church near Tyler.

“I can’t comprehend how anyone would do the Lord’s house this way,” Dover Pastor Carl Samples said.

Clear Spring Pastor Brandon Owens vowed that Sunday services would continue.

No injuries have been reported in any of the church fires so far.

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