Arson suspected in church fire


First Posted: 7/26/2009

An unknown suspect broke into and entered Closer Walk Baptist Church at 410 Roberts Road on Sunday shortly after 2 a.m. and set it on fire, according to a report from the Mount Airy Police Department.
The Mount Airy Fire Department received the call to the church about a block from the Rockford Street fire station at 2:26 a.m. and arrived on the scene at 2:28 a.m. The fifteen firefighters took about 40 minutes to get the fire at the wooden structure under control.
The area of origin was in a bathroom in the fellowship hall, reported Capt. Chris Fallaw. It started on the inside of the building.
The fire department has informally completed its portion of the investigation, Fallaw said, but officers with the State Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Mount Airy Police Department continue the criminal portion of what officials said is an arson investigation.
The preacher, Doug Cockerham, came out early this morning and called all his members and told them about the church, Fallaw said, adding that many of them came by the church to see the damage throughout the morning hours. A lot did (come out). They came and boarded everything up today.
Cockerham couldnt be reached for comment Sunday evening, but Fallaw said he believed the church members are making plans to hold services somewhere else in the interim.
Cockerham told the fire department that the building, which is just off Marshall Street, was moved from the corner lot about 45 or 46 years ago and the addition was constructed about 25 years ago.
The total cost of damage is estimated at $125,000, which includes property damage of $75,000 and content damage of $50,000, reported the Mount Airy Fire Department.
Surry County EMS and Mount Airy Rescue Squad also responded to the scene.
No arrests had been made, as of press time Sunday.

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