2 Vancouver church fires ruled arson

Fires at First Congregational United Church of Christ and Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene intentionally set

Fires damaged the Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene (left) and the First Congregational United Church of Christ. (KOIN)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) – Fire officials say both a Wednesday morning fire at the First Congregational United Church of Christ and a Thursday morning fire at Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene were intentionally set.

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The Thursday morning fire at Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene started around 3 a.m., Clark County Fire Dist. 6 Spokesperson David Schmitke said.

Crews responded after emergency dispatchers got reports of a water-flow activation alarm coming from the building’s sprinkler system.

When crews arrived, they discovered that a window had been broken out inside a pre-school room.

Inside the room there was evidence of high heat. The sprinklers were able to put the flames out before the entire building caught fire.

“Whatever happened, it looks like there was a small blaze,” Schmitke told KOIN.

Damage estimates from Wednesday’s fire at the First Congregational United Church of Christ have not been made public. Agents with the ATF responded to the scene to help conduct the investigation. Officials said it is standard anytime a house of worship is set fire that the ATF is notified.

$10,000 reward for info that leads to a conviction in the First Congregational United Church of Christ fire

The cause of the fire at the First Congregational United Church of Christ has not been publicly released.

“Everything is going to move a little slower at this point in time because we’re going to be very, very thorough about every piece of evidence,” Schmitke said.

The fire at the Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene appears to have been started after someone broke out a window and potentially threw something inside the building which caused a flash fire.

“We don’t believe from our perspective that somebody has a personal ax to grind with us,” Pastor Larry Rounsley told KOIN 6 News. “Our heart is for the person. We’re concerned for this person.”

He said there is some frustration because of time needed to repair the church would be better spent on more impacting things. But when they clean up, “we’ll be more determined to continue on with caring for our community,”

Rounsley said he doesn’t know if there is any connection with the other church fire.

“We’re very grateful that no one was hurt and stuff can be repaired and it’s already in process,” he said.

Anyone with information on the either fire is asked to call the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

There is now a $10,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the First Congregational United Church of Christ fire.

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