Juvenile accused of arson after Upshur County church damaged by fire
UPSHUR COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas congregation is without a house of worship today, after fire ripped through their building, and a juvenile has been charged with arson.
Just before 8 last night, Upshur County fire units were called to a fire at the Mount Lebanon CME church on Squirrel Road, just east of Perryville.
“Simpsonville, Harmony, Bettie volunteer departments. Gilmer also. One of our constables responded to assist,” said Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb.
The building was gutted. Damage resulted in a near complete loss to the church.
But, there was someone at the church before the fire.
A church member called a fellow member about seeing something unusual: a light on in the church when no one was supposed to be there.
On their way to the fire, Upshur County deputies actually encountered somebody of interest.
“On their way, they encountered a wreck and a juvenile at the scene,” the sheriff said.
That 16-year-old juvenile admitted having wrecked the car, running over the church sign and more.
“The juvenile the deputy had made a statement that he was in the church. The juvenile had entered the church, and while in the church had lit a candle, which is believed as what started the fire,” Webb said.
The church and grounds will be closed until the investigation is over.
“Investigators with ATF task force are here to further look at the scene,” said the sheriff.
Webb said the juvenile has been booked into the Gregg County Juvenile Detention facility on the charge of felony arson.
Church members said they will hold Sunday worship at another area church.
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