Arson eyed in 5 east Texas church fires this month

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ATHENS, Texas (AP) — Officials say arson is suspected in five east Texas church fires since the beginning of the year. Three have been in one town and two came in one night this week.

Suspected arson fires devastated two churches Monday night in Athens, about 65 miles southeast of Dallas. Athens Fire Chief John McQueary said Tuesday that multiple ignition points were found in both the Lake Athens Baptist Church and the Grace Community Church.

Arson also is suspected in a fire that decimated the Faith Church in Athens last week.

Fires also have destroyed the Little Hope Baptist Church in Canton and struck a church in Martin’s Mill since Jan. 1. Both are within 25 miles or less of Athens.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state fire marshal’s office are helping with the investigation.