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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Alabama Church Destroyed By Suspicious Blaze

Taken from

Hayden, Alabama
Monday, March 27, 2006

The Faith Church of the Nazarene in Hayden, Alabama was destroyed by fire on March 24. The fire marked the eleventh church fire in the Birmingham area since February 3.

Hayden lies within Blount County, approximately 25 miles north of Birmingham.

The cause of a fire remains under investigation but has been labeled as suspicious, said Ragan Ingram, deputy commissioner of the Alabama Department of Insurance.

Blount County Sheriff Danny Morton told the Birmingham News the fire apparently originated in the back buildings of the church.

A truck driver reported the fire — which was visible from nearby Interstate 65 — around 2 a.m., Morton said. No one was injured.

Phillip Sessions, pastor of the church, told the Birmingham News the church consisted of a main building and two trailers. When he received a call shortly after 2 a.m., Sessions said, he went to the scene.

"The trailers were about burned down, and the auditorium had started burning," he said.

Additional news reports stated the sanctuary/auditorium later collapsed.

Although he has received no official word that the fire was arson, Sessions said, "the ATF [was investigating], and I think they found something."

The church was 15 years old, he said, with 69 members. Sessions became pastor November 1, 2005. The church is part of the Alabama North District.

"We just lost ‘things,’ and we can get most of those back," he said. "It will present some difficulty keeping our members together until we rebuild, but I think we will grow stronger."

The congregation held services on Sunday, March 26 in the nearby Warrior High School gymnasium.

Earlier this month, three Birmingham college students were arrested in connection with a string of nine rural Alabama church fires. The trio faces state and federal charges.

According to CNN, the students remain in police custody. In court documents, they described the church fires as a joke that "got out of hand."

CNN reports no charges have been brought in connection with a tenth fire on February 11 in Lamar County, Alabama.
--Birmingham News, CNN (CNN photo)


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