Police: Arson confirmed cause of church fire - WNEM TV 5

Police: Arson confirmed cause of church fire

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
GENESEE COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Police confirmed arson was the cause of the church fire earlier this month.

It happened about 4 p.m. at the Church of Christ in Genesee County on Aug. 17 after a strong line of storms passed through the area.

Several fire crews responded to the scene at the intersection of E. Lake and State Road in Otisville.

The 50-year-old church is a total loss, Fire Chief David Lutze said.

No one was in the church when the fire started.

Officials with the Michigan State Police said the church has been the target of vandals in the past.

MSP Lt. David Kaiser said accelerants were found inside the burned down church.

The accelerants were discovered by a K-9 officer and the state crime lab later confirmed it, Kaiser said.

MSP is offering a reward for information on the crime. If you have any information call 1-855-MICHTIP.

As for the future of the parish, parishioner Jeff Hawes said only the building burnt down, not the faith that keeps it going.

"It's where we worship, but we can rebuild. I mean, my wife and I have been going here for 30 years. I know everybody here. It's the best congregation. We'll have it in the preacher's backyard until we can rebuild," Hawes said.

Pastor Jeremy Hoover showed up to comfort the people of his congregation.

"Things happen and the test of our faith is how we preserver through those things," Hoover said.

Despite the damage, Hoover said the biggest blessing was no one was in the church at the time of the fire.

"We need to remember that the church is the people, not our buildings and facilities," Hoover said.

Officials previously believed a lightning strike caused the fire.

>>Slideshow: Otisville church destroyed by fire<<

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