Police: Church fire set intentionally

May 6, 2009 9:32:41 AM PDT
Police are investigating a fire at a Clayton church.Clayton Police Chief Glen Allen told Eyewitness News the fire was intentionally set and the church was broken into.

When officers arrived at the church, they found a door to the main building open and determined the fire was intentionally set.

A second building on the property was also broken into. Authorities say it also appears a fire was intentionally set in that building.

"We are working under the premise that this building was forcibly entered sometime during the night and was intentionally set," Allen said.

The fire started at Mount Calvary Baptist Church on Barber Mill Road shortly after 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Fire departments from Clayton, Garner, Wilsons Mills and Cleveland were dispatched to the scene.

Calyton police say the fire in the second building went out on its own and the damage to that building was significantly less than the damage to the main church building and sanctuary.

A church member told Eyewitness News that she was told there was vandalism inside many of the church's rooms. Also, she said the fire may have started in the sanctuary.

"There's considerablele damage to the sanctuary part," said Chief Lee Barbee, Clayton Fire Department. "Fire come through the roof."

Crews were able to get the fire under control by about 6:40 a.m. The church's pastor is optimistic his congregation will get through the challenging time.

"We'll just take this as a pretty big bump in the road, and spend time together as a family, uniting our hearts and coming together," said Pastor Darrell Sauls.

Multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation, including the Clayton Police Department, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the local fire marshal.

Authorities are asking anyone who may have seen suspicious vehicles or persons near the church or along the Barber Mill Road area during the pre-dawn hours to call the Clayton Police Department at 919-553-4611 or Clayton Crime Stoppers at 919-359-TIPZ (8479).


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