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Posted 24 Jul 2001   For week ended July 06, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 07Jul01

By Kent Larsen

Fire That Destroyed LDS Chapel in Ohio Ruled Arson

LEXINGTON, OHIO -- Fire investigators have ruled that the fire that destroyed part of an LDS chapel was an arson attack, and brought in Federal investigators to help look for evidence and suspects. The fire started before 3 am Tuesday, July 3rd in a classroom in the building. The fire destroyed the building's chapel and three classrooms before it hit a firewall and stopped. Damage was estimated at $500,000 by local fire officials.

According to Lexington Township Fire Chief Mark Taschwer, the department received a call reporting flames at the building at 2:50 am. Since the building is located on the border between Lexington Township and Alliance, Ohio, 15 miles northeast of Canton, Ohio, both fire departments responded to the blaze. Before the fire was put out they had assistance from the fire departments of Washington and Marlboro townships and Sebring, Ohio.

After the fire was extinguished, Taschwer called in the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms because the fire occurred in a house of worship. Since a rash of arson church fires in the Southern US several years ago, the ATF has been active in church fire investigations. By that afternoon, six federal agents were picking through the debris attempting to determine what caused the fire. They determined that the fire was an arson because of the location where it started and its burn pattern. However, investigators didn't find any evidence that an accelerant was used.

The Church was fortunate, however, because a firewall, put in the chapel when it was built at the suggestion of a brick mason, saved about half the building. But as of Tuesday, Bishop James S. Kirt, of the Alliance Ward, which meets in the building, didn't know where the Ward would meet. But he was certain that the building would be rebuilt. "We're self-insured; it'll be paid for before we build."

The arson attack comes after several LDS chapels in Utah have been the targets of vandalism and arson attacks, which are still unsolved. While Mormon News reports indicate that several LDS Chapels suffer vandalism or arson attacks each year, figures on the number of attacks are not available.


Arson blamed for church blaze
Alliance OH The Review 5Jul01 D1
By George Salsberry: The Review

Mormon church fire blamed on arsonist
Akron OH Beacon Journal 6Jul01 D1

Fireproof wall saves church from disaster
Canton OH Repository 4Jul01 D1
By Wuyambu Zutali: Repository staff writer


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