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Arsonist strikes Fayette County church; passers-by put out firecomment (0)

November 29, 2007

An intentionally set fire that could have destroyed Mountain Home Baptist Church in rural Fayette County Nov. 20 only caused minimal damage before
passers-­by put it out.

According to Pastor Dawson Morrison, the fire would have consumed the church within minutes if two motorists driving down Highway 13 around 7:45 p.m. hadn’t noticed a small fire in front of the church and turned around to investigate.

The fire they spotted was Mountain Home’s pulpit Bible ablaze outside the church. When they got closer, they confronted an individual who left the scene, Morrison said.

According to Larry Barnes, director of missions for Fayette Baptist Association, they then saw a second fire burning inside the sanctuary and “fortunately had a fire extinguisher with them.”

“It is a pine-sided building inside and would’ve been a complete loss if they hadn’t put out the fire,” Barnes said.

Instead the damage was confined to a couple of pews, the carpet and some smoke damage, Morrison said. “It was just by God’s grace that we found it early enough that it was minimal damage to the sanctuary. We were very blessed because within 10 minutes, the church would probably have been entirely engulfed in flames.”

Morrison said he believed the fire was “an anti-God or anti-church crime.”

Barnes said the fire came closely on the heels of a break-in that happened a week ago, during which the same pulpit Bible was thrown down the aisle of the church.

At press time, officials were still in pursuit of a suspect. But David Hyche of the Birmingham Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said officials had some “very good investigative leads in the case” and were hoping for a quick solve.

Morrison said the church, which runs about 30 on Sundays, was planning to have the sanctuary cleaned up enough to hold services Nov. 25.

“It should not interrupt our worship at all. We think we will be fine,” he said. “We appreciate the prayers of our fellow Alabama Baptists at this time.” (TAB)

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