Arsonists May Be To Blame For Palestine Church Fires - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/15/06-Palestine

Arsonists May Be To Blame For Palestine Church Fires

Arsonists may be responsible for numerous house fires and two church fires in Palestine, within the last two weeks. On Saturday night, the Asberry Chapel Church caught fire. That church is just off Highway 84 and County Road 392 in Anderson County. Almost two weeks earlier, The Church of the Nazarane also caught fire, just a few miles west.

Investigators say similarities between the two lead them to believe they could be linked, and they told KLTV 7's Lindsay Wilcox, they need your help to stop whoever is responsible.

Two weeks ago, arsonists broke out this window at The Church of the Nazarene, and set it on fire.

Church member Raymond Lively said, "The pastor had thirty years worth of books and stuff in his study that he brought from Georgetown, and that's all gone."

Lively watched two daughters get married here, and when his son died in the 60's the church's pastor buried him.

"This has been our home, and I don't want to see it go. We're rebuilding it back, as best we can, like it was, so that it will be home again," Lively said.

The building sustained extensive smoke, fire, and water damage, but it can be re-built. The church had insurance.

The Asberry Chapel Church didn't fare as well. It was a total loss, and it's unclear now, if there was insurance to rebuild.

Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor says it's possible the two fires are related.

"We did find some evidence of accelerate in the first church that burned, The Church of the Nazarene. And the second church, we did find some similar evidence in that one as well. There are some other similarities, but I am not going to discuss at this time," Taylor said.

The possibility of these being hate crimes is not likely.

"One is a predominantly Caucasian church, and one is predominantly African-American. I don't, at this juncture, I don't see that," Taylor said.

Lively says he hopes whoever did this will, someday, be remorseful.

"All we can do is pray for them, and hope they turn around, because they're going to have a hot time waiting for them.," Lively said.

The Anderson County Sheriff's Department is offering a one thousand dollar reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of those involved. If you have any information, you're asked to call their crimestoppers at 903-729-8477.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

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