Clark Co. churches on alert after second suspected church arson - KPTV - FOX 12

Clark Co. churches on alert after second suspected church arson in two days

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VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

The window to the nursery is boarded up at Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene in Vancouver after something was thrown through the window causing a fire.

According to firefighters, the blaze started just after 3:30 a.m. Thursday at the church on Northeast Salmon Creek Avenue. The melted toys and broken glass are evidence of the heat, but the sprinkler system stopped the flames from spreading.

Even though the sprinklers limited the damage from the fire, they soaked the floors in the nursery and throughout the church.

Investigators believe this was the work of an arsonist, and said the fire was set about 24 hours after an arson at the First Congregational Church of Christ in Hazel Dell.

After two church arsons in two days, the Clark County Sheriff's Office is warning all houses of worship to be vigilant, while local investigators and the ATF are trying to figure out if the two fires are connected.

Wednesday’s fire destroyed the Hazel Dell church's iconic roof and left smoke and water damage throughout the building.

Vicki Smith, who runs a nonprofit called Martha's Pantry serving people with HIV and AIDS that leases space in the First Congregational Church, thinks the charity will have to throw out two-thirds of its food due to smoke damage.

“Smoke is a carcinogen, so things like your mac and cheese and noodles and things that are not pressurized packaging have got to be destroyed,” she said.

Smith is troubled by the two church arsons, only feeling a slight relief that her church was not singularly targeted. Her group has started a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to restock their food supply.

Back at Liberty Bible Church, people are working to be able to hold services this Sunday. Pastor Larry Rounsley is taking the sheriff’s warning to heart.

“I just think we need to watch out for each other and take care of our property and do everything we can do protect our sites,” Rounsley said.

A Clark County Fire District spokesman told Fox 12 that they are changing the way crews respond to calls now. If they get a report of an alarm at a church address, they are going to send a full fire structure response, just in case.

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