Arson Cause of Tenn. Church Fire

August 26, 2005

Federal, state and local investigators announced recently the completion of the on-scene fire investigation of the Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ located at 724 New Lewisburg Highway in Columbia, Tennessee. The church has approximately 90 parishioners and was built nine years ago.

Investigators determined that the fire was intentionally set. Since the fire earlier this month, a joint effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Tennessee State Bomb and Arson Section, the Maury County Sheriff’s Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Maury County Fire Department and the Columbia Fire Department has enabled the scene to be fully investigated.

After three days examining the scene and conducting countless interviews, the cause of the fire has been determined to be arson. The fire ultimately destroyed the entire building. It is estimated that damage to the church exceeds $2 million dollars. Although investigators at the scene have made a determination of arson as the cause of the fire, the investigation still continues.

“A house of worship is a place of peace and where community members come together. Arson puts many at risk of injury or death, including police and fire personnel. The Columbia community can be assured that the combined resources used in this investigation will continue to work vigorously to ultimately bring those responsible to justice”, stated ATF Special Agent in Charge James Cavanaugh of the ATF Nashville Field Division.

The Tennessee Bomb and Arson Section and Maury County Sheriff’s Department are offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the individual(s) responsible for the crime of arson. Callers may confidentially contact the Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017 or the ATF Arson Hotline at 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473) to report any information.

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