ATF investigates three church fires on the same morning

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HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn. — Trinity Methodist Church in Nutbush sits in rubble, and two other churches suffer damage from fire. In Lauderdale County, Springfield Baptist Church in Ripley and Cowboy Church in Henning will have to be repaired. Thursday the State Fire Marshal’s Office said the ATF is investigating all three of these church incidents. “It’s important at this point to make that determination if it was an accidental cause or intentionally set,” ATF spokesperson Michael Knight said. Not only were members at Trinity Methodist Church concerned about the building’s damage, but also the rich history behind it. Tombstones that date back into the 1800s decorate the church’s backyard. Haywood County residents such as Pat Mann came to look at a grave site for one of his family members to check the condition of the cemetery. “Her grandparents are buried right behind this church building,” Mann said. “I told her that I would come out and look and see if any damage was done to the cemetery.” Knight said the ATF and Fire Marshal’s Office are still working to see what caused all three fires and whether there is a direct connection. “We look and see if there is any comparison between denominations or the congregation, or if there is a common denominator that sits at them with all the fires,” Knight said. Trinity was the only church that was a complete loss. “It’s going to be missed. I hope it’s going to be rebuilt,” Mann said. The ATF asks anyone who has any information that could help in any of these investigations to contact local law enforcement.

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