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Former Volunteer Firefighter Charged With Arson After Setting Church Ablaze

(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

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A former volunteer firefighter has been charged with arson after setting a Tennessee church ablaze, authorities announced Wednesday.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) launched an investigation into an Easter Sunday fire at New Salem Presbyterian Church on Highway 89 in Weakley County. With the help of the Dresden Fire Department, authorities discovered 25-year-old Codie Austin Clark was responsible for “intentionally” setting the fire, according to a press release from the TBI.

Detail of the hands of former Salvadoran President (2004-2009) Elias Antonio Saca with handcuffs, taken as he waits, along with six of his collaborators, for the judge to arrive in court in San Salvador on May 16, 2018, to face charges of embezzlement and laundering for allegedly diverting 298 million dollars. - Saca was arrested in October 2016 with his former private secretary and former communications secretary, among others, suspected of pocketing $246 million in public funds during his 2004-2009 mandate. They have been charged with embezzlement, criminal association and money laundering. (Photo by Marvin RECINOS / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)

Detail of the hands of former Salvadoran President (2004-2009) (MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)

Clark was a former Dresden firefighter, according to the press release.

The Dresden Fire Department had already been investigating Clark for a series of other fires in the area, TBI said. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Weakley County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the investigation. (RELATED: Former Maryland Police Chief Arrested, Charged With Setting 12 Fires Across Multiple Counties) 

Clark was arrested on Wednesday on one count of Arson of a Place of Worship, TBI said. According to the press release, Clark is being held without bond, however, the Associated Press (AP) reported he is free on bond. A clerk at Weakley County General Session court said Thursday she does not know whether Clark has a lawyer, according to the AP.

There were 32,358 total arson offenses in the U.S. in 2019, according to data from Statista. The FBI said the arrest rate for arson in 2019 was 2.8 for every 100,000 inhabitants.