Third Methodist church catches on fire
Jan 07, 2013 (The Reidsville Review - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A local Methodist church caught fire in the early evening on Wednesday, January 2. That makes three churches in a 10-mile radius of the Stokesdale area that have burned since Dec. 22.
Bethel United Methodist Church, located at 8424 Haw River Road, right across the line in Guilford County caught fire around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night.
Guilford County Emergency Service Director Alan Perdue said Wednesday's fire put itself out before the Oak Ridge and Stokesdale Fire Departments arrived on scene. The church sustained minimal damage. Perdue called the fire intentional.
The first two fires happened across the border in Rockingham County. The Rockingham County Fire Marshal's Office also called the fires intentional.
The first fire occurred at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 22 at Gideon Grove United Methodist Church. The second fire happened at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23 at Mount Zion United Methodist Church.
Perdue said it's too early to determine if the fires are connected.
"I think taking into consideration the close proximity and all three being the same denomination, I don't see how they couldn't be linked," Rockingham County Fire Marshal Robert Cardwell said.
The two agencies are working with one another. Cardwell said they're exchanging pertinent information regarding all three fires.
Additionally, the agencies are working with the State Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office and the Guilford County Sheriff's Office.
Cardwell said the fire marshal's office is seeking tips from the community.
"We're looking at every possible link remotely leaning towards these church fires," Cardwell said. "If someone sees a suspicious vehicle in the area and something doesn't feel right, they need a vehicle description and the license plate numbers."
Cardwell said the fire marshal's office is following up on tips they've already received but any information someone has pertaining to these fires can be helpful.
To report tips call Rockingham County Crimestoppers at 336-349-9683.
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