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Investigation Takes Bizarre Twist in Church Fire Case

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FRANKLINTON — Federal and state investigators are looking into what caused a fire that destroyed a church building in Franklin County late Wednesday morning, but church officials are not saying much to help.

Flames from the New Jerusalem Church reached into the sky, at one point shooting above the treetops. Fire fully engulfed the former school building and destroyed almost everything inside the walls of the pre-World War I structure.

Dozens of volunteer emergency personnel, firefighters, and pumper trucks from three counties responded to the late morning alarm, which ended up blocking part of U.S. 1. Investigators say the five people inside the church escaped safely.

But few of the people connected with the church, including Pastor Cornelius Perry, would discuss the fire. The silence began to frustrate firefighters. Even the Red Cross had trouble figuring out how many people need help.

The Franklin County Fire Department says that there is no heavy indication of foul play in this fire, and it may be a while before they actually get to take a look inside this building because it may take a day or two to cool complete.

The ATF and the SBI are called in to investigate all church fires. Before the building was converted to a church ten years ago, it was a school for Christian women.

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 Credits

Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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