UPDATE: Investigation into Wills Point church fire continues - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

UPDATE: Investigation into Wills Point church fire continues

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

WILLS POINT, TX (KLTV) - Another church has burned in East Texas, this time in Wills Point. The fire at Russell Memorial United Methodist Church Thursday morning is the eighth church fire in East Texas since the start of the year. The church is located on Highway 80 and 4th Street.

Authorities say a 911 call came in just after 5am from someone on their way to work who saw smoke pouring out of the sanctuary. At one point the situation became extremely dangerous for the Wills Point Fire Department when the sanctuary's roof collapsed. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Five East Texas fire departments responded.

Investigators have been out all day, combing the debris, looking for anything that could have caused the fire, and where it was started. According to ATF investigator, Tom Crowly, the church had been broken into this morning, causing investigators to call the fire suspicious for now. They say they don't yet know if accelerants were used in the fire. It could take 2-3 days to determine if the fire was a result of arson.

Authorities have blocked off the property, and set up a command center at the site of the old sanctuary.

Again, this is the eight church fire since the beginning of the year. A Canton church fire was ruled accidental, but six others in Athens, Lindale, and Tyler have been ruled arson.

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