A church fire in southeast Iowa is being called “suspicious.” Burlington Fire Marshal Mark Crooks says the fire at the Union Baptist Church in Burlington was reported shortly after midnight Saturday.
“A Burlington police officer on routine patrol noticed an excessive amount of smoke and Burlington firefighters were on scene within five minutes. They made entry and had the fire under control by about 1:30 a.m.,” Crooks said. Damage to the church is estimated at $100,000.
Crooks says, because it was a church, there are more than just local detectives on the scene. “Anytime we deal with a church fire, I need to notify the State Fire Marshal. The ATF and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are called because it’s a potential hate crime,” Crooks said.
This is not the first church fire in Burlington. Nearly four years ago, the First United Methodist Church was intentionally set on fire. The arsonist was arrested and sent to prison. That church is currently being rebuilt.
By Mark Morris, KBUR, Burlington