WV Fire Marshal rules church fire as arson

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3:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, 2019 UPDATE:   An investigation into a fire that burned down a church building on March 3, 2019 determined the blaze was intentionally set.  Investigators said they completed an “origin and cause determination” of the fire at Freedom Ministries in Daniels and the result shows the fire was arson.

Head Pastor Philip Farrington tells 59 news, while they are hurt that this was an intentional act, there is no ill will towards the person or people behind it..

“Our message is that, we know someone did this, and we don’t hate them,” Pastor Farrington said. “We’re hurting and we don’t understand how somebody could possibly do this to God’s house, to God’s people or to God, it just makes no sense to us.”

Anyone with information about the blaze or who may have set the fire is asked to contact the West Virginia Arson Hotline at 1-800-233-FIRE (3473).  A reward of up to $5,000 is available for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction.

The investigation is still open.


ORIGINAL STORY: A Raleigh County church congregation is left wondering what is next after Freedom Ministries burns over the weekend. 

An investigation by the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office has been ongoing in order to determine the cause of this fire, but nothing has been ruled out yet.

The first calls came in shortly after midnight on Saturday night. When fire fighters from the Beaver, Ghent, Mabscott, and Coal City fire departments arrived on scene, the building was fully engulfed in flames.

Jerry Wistling lives on the same road as the church. He said he was alerted to the danger by his smart doorbell which detected the heat signature.

“It was about 1:25 a.m. and the RING doorbell went off,” Wistling said. “Something told me to get up; it wasn’t normal. I walked through the bedroom, came into the living room and looked over the side and it was totally engulfed in flames. I mean, it was shooting 50 feet high. It was hot.”

After the fire was put out, amazingly, not a single bible or cross was burned.

However, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“I’m not sure how long it’s going to take” said Deputy Jason Baltic, with the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s office said. “I know they’ve been there all day and they’re still there at the scene,” he told 59News Monday afternoon.

Freedom Ministries was forced to cancel their morning services Sunday. Best EMS also responded to the fire, but no injuries were reported as a result of the fire. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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