Officials investigating church fire, burglaries
by Elane Jones
Dec 19, 2012 | 3150 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Saragossa volunteer firefighters work to put out a fire at Jasper Alliance Church on Alabama Highway 5 Tuesday morning. – Photo by: Elane Jones.
Saragossa volunteer firefighters work to put out a fire at Jasper Alliance Church on Alabama Highway 5 Tuesday morning. – Photo by: Elane Jones.
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Law enforcement officials with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent most of Tuesday investigating a fire and burglary that caused major damage to one church and a vandalism at another in Jasper.

Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey said two individuals have been taken into custody in connection with a fire and burglary at Jasper Alliance Church and the burglary and vandalism at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Jasper.

At 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, Walker County 911 dispatched firefighters from the Saragossa Volunteer Fire Department to the scene of a structure fire at Jasper Alliance Church, located at the intersection of Bradford Road and Alabama Highway 5 in the Crossroads community, which is about six miles north of Jasper.

Firefighters with Jasper Fire and Rescue as well as Mt. Zion Volunteer Fire Department were also dispatched to the scene. When firefighters arrived, heavy smoke was coming from under the eaves of the church’s roof, and undisclosed evidence found on the scene indicated the church had also been burglarized.

While collecting evidence at Jasper Alliance Church, authorities received a call to Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on Duncan Road in Jasper, where someone had reportedly broken out windows and vandalized the building.

Police have confirmed that both cases are connected.

“Evidence collected at the first scene indicated a burglary had occurred and the State Fire Marshal’s Office has now confirmed the fire at that location was indeed arson,” Tirey said. “Two individuals have been taken into custody, but their names are not being released at this time, pending formal charges being filed.”

Tirey said investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office will meet with Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair today to file formal charges.

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office is also investigating a third burglary, which Tirey said could also be linked to the suspects.

Anyone with any information about the incidents are asked to contact the Walker County Sheriff’s Office at 205-302-6464 or the Alabama Arson Hotline at 1-800-654-0775.