Authorities investigate arson at church in Lee Co.

By Chris Vessell bio | email

SALEM, AL (WTVM) - The State Fire Marshall is investigating a church fire that took place on the same day as two other east Alabama church fires.

"I've spent my life in this church," Leigh Deshields, a church member said. Deshields is glad a small fire didn't end up destroying the church she and her family have always attended.

Sheriff's investigators say Pitts Chapel in Salem appears to be the target of an arson that was reported Saturday afternoon. "A person or persons involved had taken some paper printed materials, and put it into a pile, and then put some type of accelerant on it and ignited it," Sheriff Jay Jones said.

Only the inside of the church was damaged by the fire. Due to an ongoing investigation News Leader 9 was not allowed access inside to view the damage. "It did not appear to be constructed in such a manner as one would expect to engage the entire structure," Jones added.

The church was able to hold Sunday Services despite the damage from the fire and some graffiti that had been painted on the walls. "We met before church yesterday morning, and did what cleaning that just had to be done and held services," Deshields said.

Deshields remarked that she didn't want to speculate on why someone might have tried to set the fire, but she wants to leave the incident in the hands of investigators and ultimately God. "I hope they catch who ever is responsible and we're praying for them, but we want to see them caught too," she said.

Scott Pilgreen, Assistant State Fire Marshall, told us he saw no connection between this fire and two Chambers County church fires that also occurred on Saturday. However, he adds he's not ruling it out. News Leader 9 will continue to follow these stories, and update you on any new information.