Officials are investigating a fire at a church in Massachusetts as a potential hate crime, numerous sources reported.
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield was “unusable” after flames tore through the church early Monday morning. Firefighters responded to the scene at around 5 a.m., and the fire was put out before 8 a.m., according to WWLP.
— Kevin Wiles Jr (@kwilesjrnews) December 28, 2020
Springfield Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi said the fire was “highly suspicious” because there were three other fires in the area in the last three weeks.
“It’s a church that burned at nighttime, so it’s a potential hate crime,” Calvi added, according to NBC.
Fire officials are investigating the possibility that the fire was accidental and local police and FBI are canvassing the area for possible leads.
The roof of the church had recently been replaced after a fundraising campaign, Ronn Johnson of Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services said, according to WWLP. Johnson added that there were multiple incidents of vandalism around the church in recent weeks and cardboard had been set on fire.
In November, two churches in Washington state were damaged by fire on the same day, leading investigators to determine one of the fires, set at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Brewster, was arson. In a separate incident that month, a man was caught on surveillance footage at Saint Bernard Catholic Church in Sunrise, Florida setting a fire after destroying a statue of Jesus. (RELATED: Shirtless Man Caught On Video Throwing Rock At Jesus Statue, Lighting Church Property On Fire)