McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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May 6, 2013

One man arrested after a fire destroys a Kiowa church

McALESTER — One man has been arrested and arson is suspected in a  fire that destroyed a Kiowa church Monday night, officials say.

The late night blaze destroyed the Fellowship Worship church on south State Highway 69.

Six fire departments, 30 fire fighters and more than 15 fire trucks from Kiowa, Pittsburg, Savanna, Blanco, Savanna, McAlester and the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, battled the blaze for more than 5 hours, according to Kiowa Fire Chief Patrick Johnson.

Johnson said he and his men were at the scene all night cleaning up after the fire.

He also said the fire is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal and the building was total loss, estimated  damage is more than $150,000.

According to a report from the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s one man has been arrested in the case and first degree arson is suspected.

The report states the pastor of the church and her husband arrived at the church about 8:15 p.m. to gather groceries for the family of the man suspected in starting the fire.

 When they drove up they noticed a pickup truck parked near front of the church with the hood of the truck under the porch, according to the report.

And because a new roof was being installed, the couple said they thought the truck belonged to the roofers.

When the couple was about to leave they heard what sounded like a gunshot and saw the truck was on fire, the report states.

According to the report, the pastor said she went to call the fire department and when she returned to the front of the church, the truck had exploded into flames.

The couple exited out of a rear door and used a back hoe to pull the truck away from the church.

 By the time the truck was pulled away the fire had already spread to the church building, the report states.

Meanwhile, Johnson said when he arrived at the scene soon after 9 p.m. the entire building was engulfed in flames and the roof had caved in.

No charges have been filed in the case as of press-time today.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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