According to Dora police, two different groups have claimed ownership and control over the church. This has led to a series of calls to the police department over the past few months from both sides, alleging misconduct, trespassing, vandalism and burglary.
The police department was still investigating the ongoing incidents when a passerby called at approximately 6 a.m. Friday to report the church was on fire.
Gas service to the building had been cut off, but there was power to the building, Fire Chief Chris Edwards said. He called the blaze “suspicious,” noting that the front door and windows had been removed prior to the blaze. He said officials were able to determine the point of origin, but could not yet definitively give the cause of the fire.
Church members flocked to the scene Friday morning to mourn the loss of their house of worship. The walls of the block building still stand, but the insides were completely destroyed and much of the roof is missing.
Dora Fire and Police departments remained on the scene for much of the day, along with state and federal investigators from the Alabama Fire Marshal’s office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Edwards said the investigators took samples from inside the burned church back to Montgomery for analysis.
This is the second church fire in Dora in the last year. The first church, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, burned to the ground late last year. That fire was ruled accidental and was caused by a faulty heater, Edwards said.