Federal Authorities Investigate Fayetteville Church Fire
Posted December 26, 2003 3:31 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A fire at a church in Fayetteville is under investigation.
Firefighters were called to Murphy's Chapel Church on Gurley Street just after 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
They say the fire started outside and damaged the back of the church.
No one was hurt. Officials are calling the fire suspicious.
Federal agents are looking at the case. When arson is suspected in a church fire, federal agents often join the investigation after a surge in church arsons in the mid-1990s, particularly at African-American churches in the South.
Between 1995 and mid-1997, authorities investigated 429 reports of arson, bombings or attempted bombings at churches. In response, then-President Bill Clinton created the National Church Arson Task Force to fight the trend. Congress also passed the Church Arson Prevention Act, making it a federal crime and toughening the penalties.