Investigators have ruled that an eastern Iowa church fire over the weekend is a case of arson. The blaze damaged the 102 year old First Presbyterian Church in Monticello. The fire was reported at 8:30 Saturday morning. On Sunday, members of the First Presbyterian congregation attended services at the neighboring United Church, where John Behrends is member.
"We’ve got plenty of empty seats there, so whatever comes…we can fit them in," Behrends said. Duane Mesch of Monticello says the loss of the church is felt by the entire town. "Anytime in a small town…a church…something like that happens, you share with everybody else," Mesch said.
Firefighters were able to control the fire within two hours of arriving on the scene. Investigators are not calling the church a total loss, but do say there’s a lot of damage to the building. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Monticello police or the state arson hot line at (800) 532-1459.