ShareThis Page
ATF joins state police probe into arson at Indiana County church | TribLIVE.com
Regional

ATF joins state police probe into arson at Indiana County church

Paul Peirce
809012_web1_vnd-churchfire-022719

Federal agents have joined state police fire marshals to investigate an arson early Tuesday that destroyed a church in rural Indiana County.

Investigators, including agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are seeking information from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the vicinity of the Harmony Grove Lutheran Church on Five Points Road in Washington Township, state police spokesman Trooper Cliff Greenfield said. The fire was reported about 4 a.m., when flames were already through the roof.

Trooper Chet Bell, a state police fire marshal in Greensburg, reported the fire was intentionally set in two separate areas — the center of the basement and on the first floor, near the altar. One firefighter suffered a minor injury fighting the church fire, he said.

Cody Hitching, chief of the Creekside Volunteer Fire Department which battled the blaze, reported on social media that the department has responded to several intentionally set fires in the area in recent months. He urged the public to report suspicious activities to state police.

“We cannot specify with the exception of the Harmony Grove Church fire that has been confirmed (an) arson, but there has been a rash of unoccupied or abandoned barns and buildings that have burned in the last few months,” Hitching said. “Please be vigilant, and if something looks out of place or you see someone doing something suspicious please do not ignore it. Call the state police. It may be the difference in saving someone’s life.”

State police are interested in any information about the church fire or other recent fires in northern Indiana County, Greenfield said.

“Even something you think may be insignificant could be a critical piece of evidence that would greatly assist us in this ongoing, active investigation,” Greenfield said.

State police can be reached at 724-357-1960.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Regional
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.