5 NEWS UPDATE: Preston County Church Fire Ruled Suspicious
Written by Andrew Forgotch
Last updated on December 19, 2012 @ 12:09PM
Created on December 19, 2012 @ 1:28PM
5 NEWS UPDATE 12/18/12:
The State Fire Marshal's Office said a fire that destroyed a church in Preston County Monday morning is suspicious.
Officials said there is substantial evidence that shows someone broke into the Shay Chapel Church in Fifth before the fire and stole fuel oil from tanks in the back of the church.
Assistant State Fire Marshal Mackey Ayersman said more than 100 gallons were taken, and the suspect apparently spilled some on the road in front of the church when leaving the scene.
Another building a few miles down the road also reportedly had several hundred gallons of fuel oil stolen a few weeks ago.
Shay Chapel Church was more than 100 years old.
Two more fires are also under investigation as arson in Preston County. One is at an unoccupied house in Newburg, and the other is at another unoccupied house on Rakin Road near Fellowsville last week.
If you have any information, call the State Fire Marshal's Office Arson Hotline at 1-800-233-FIRE.
5 NEWS UPDATE (12/17 6 PM):
Community members are in shock after a fire burned a Preston County church to the ground.
Shay's Chapel United Methodist Church, in Fifth, had been around for more than 130 years before it was destroyed Monday morning.
Firefighters on scene said it looked suspicious because there was also a fire just a mile down the road at an abandoned house on Sunday night.
Janet Shaffer has been a member of the church since she was born. Shaffer told 5 News she was devastated when she heard it was destroyed.
"If this was arson they can take the building, but they can't take our spirit," Shaffer said.
Shaffer said the church has about 20 members.
ORIGINAL STORY (12/17 12 PM):
A church in Preston County was destroyed by fire.
Crews were called to the scene of Shay's Chapel United Methodist Church at around 6:00 Monday morning. The building had already been destroyed by the time crews arrived on scene. According to officials no one was injured
Crews are not sure what started the fire at this time. The State Fire Marshal's Office has been called in to investigate. 5 News is also working to get information on another fire that took place about a mile away at an outbuilding next to a church on Sunday night.
There is no word on if those fires are related at this time. Stay with 5 News for any further updates.
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