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

Ravensong Waterdancers to get you in sync

Teams will perform 12 routines at watershow on April 28

Soccer Whalers trip 49ers 1-0 in high school clash

Ballenas now prepares for North Island championships

Third delivery of building units for 222 Corfield in Parksville arrives April 26

Vehicles should expect intermittent, single-lane alternating traffic

City of Parksville to look into cost, process of beach cleanup

Cleanup would include removing rotten logs, adding sand

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read