Worth Readingby Drew Zahn
Residents of eastern Texas are on edge, worried in the wake of what may be a serial arsonist on the loose with an appetite for burning churches to the ground.
At various intervals since New Year's Day, 11 churches in the state have gone up in flames, and authorities have ruled nearly all of them arson. A $25,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the fire starter.
"The disturbing part is it changes everyone's lifestyle," said Neal Franklin, fire chief in Tyler, where two churches have been destroyed. "It changes our attitude."
Franklin told the Dallas Morning News that when the second fire broke out in Tyler, "it suddenly hit everyone, 'Oh, my goodness, this could continue every day potentially.' â€¦ That's the tension."
So far, the saga has continued nearly every day, just as Franklin feared.
The nightmare began New Year's Day, when Faith Fellowship Church in Athens, Texas, was torched. Eleven days later, on Jan. 12, the arsonist struck again, this time lighting up both Lake Athens Baptist Church and Grace Community Church of Athens.
The culprit or culprits then began spreading the fires around, hitting churches in a variety of towns, including another double blaze yesterday that reduced the rural Clear Springs Missionary Baptist church to ashes on the same night Dover Baptist Church was lit aflame.
The Dallas Morning News reports that during the first double arson, firefighters were forced to leave the scene of the first church to attend to the second. More: http://worthreading.ning.com/profiles/blogs/burning-americas-churches