Passerby spots church on fire

Jan. 3, 2008

SALEM, AL (WTVM) -  Within two days, fire has nearly destroyed two Alabama churches.  Fire crews responded to a fire at Greater Bethelpore Baptist Church in Salem just after 4:00 Thursday morning.

This fire comes just days after an arsonist burned a church in Russell County.  Officials say they need to investigate a little further before they say if the two fires are related.

The only thing left standing was the frame of Greater Bethelpore Baptist Church.  Church members and people who live near the church say it's a sad day in Lee County.  "It was just a shock.  I was at work when a church member called me.  I just couldn't believe it and had to come see it myself," said Church Member Dorothy Ealy.

"It hurts and its like someone take apart of your heart.  Just to see the house of God like this, is so sad.  It's just cruel to burn the house of God," said Lee County Resident Rosie McCord.

Investigators say a passerby notified them of the fire.  That's when Smiths Station, Crawford, and Salem Volunteer Fire Departments responded.  "Right now, its to early to tell the origin of the fire.  We are looking at every possibility.  Hopefully we will be able to make more determination and recover evidence soon," said Lee Co. Sheriff Jay Jones.

For the time being, church members say they are staying faithful.  "We are going to keep looking to the Lord and praying that our building will be restored.  Right now, we are asking everybody to continue praying for us during this time," Ealy.

If you have any information you are asked to call Lee County Crime stoppers at 1-866-LCCS-TIP.