Rev. Kyle Sylvester, center, who pastor’s St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church which was the first church that went ablaze, speaks with other area pastors Thursday, April 4, 2019, at First Benjamin Baptist Church in Opelousas, La. Authorities in southern Louisiana are investigating a string of “suspicious” fires at three African American churches in recent days. Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said it wasn’t clear whether the fires in St. Landry Parish are connected and he declined to get into specifics of what the investigation had yielded so far but described the blazes as “suspicious.” (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP)

Authorities investigate ‘suspicious’ fires at U.S. black churches

There have been three fires in recent weeks

Authorities in southern Louisiana are investigating a string of “suspicious” fires at three African American churches in recent days.

During a news conference Thursday, Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said it wasn’t clear whether the fires in St. Landry Parish are connected and he declined to get into specifics of what the investigation had yielded so far but described the blazes as “suspicious.”

“If you’re going to turn to a house of god, turn to it for resurrection,” he said.

State Fire Marshal’s spokeswoman Ashley Rodrigue says all three churches have African American congregations. She said all possibilities on the cause and potential motives are being investigated.

The ATF and the FBI also are involved in the investigation, Browning said. He said that more than 40 people from the marshal’s office are working on the investigation, which he described as “extremely active right now.”

The first fire occurred March 26 at the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, and the second happened Tuesday when the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas caught fire.

Then Thursday morning the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas caught fire.

The churches were vacant at the time of the fires, and no one was injured.

Pastors from 10 area churches gathered Thursday to discuss the fires and show support for the affected churches, The Advocate newspaper reported.

The pastors said each of the churches was well over 100 years old.

The Rev. Harry Richard of Greater Union Baptist Church told the newspaper that he doesn’t want people to panic.

“I don’t know who’s doing it or why they’re doing it, but I don’t want to be the one to inject race into it,” he said.

READ MORE: Openly queer, female priest of B.C. church defying norms

READ MORE: 9 life sentences in state case on Charleston church slayings

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

PHOTOS:Menopause rhe Musical comes to Mission

Comedy plays to a full house at the Clarke Theatre

Mission theatre troupe presents Age of Arousal

Opening Nite Theatre Society tackles thought-provoking Canadian play

Mission mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing had help from an Abbotsford law firm

Cougar sighting by Mission’s Hillside Traditional keeps kids inside

Students had to be picked up by parents at end of day as a precaution

Deroche Elementary students release 40,000 salmon fry

Fish were placed in the stream running through the school’s property, on its way to the Fraser River

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

Nominations sought for the Women of Mission Program

Mission Community Archives is accepting nominations until April 30

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

Most Read