Summerfield, NC -- We now know the fire reported in the storage building at Bethany United Methodist Church on Witty Rd. around 8:15 a.m. Wednesday was intentionally set.
Rockingham County Fire Investigators said someone used an accelerant to fuel the fire. Samples have been sent to the SBI laboratory for analysis.
Bethany Fire Department was dispatched to the scene. Firefighters told WFMY News 2 that there was no damage inside the church and that the fire was maintained to the shed. The unit was approximately 8' x 5' and held tables and chairs.
According to the Emergency Management Director no electricity runs to the building. They are not certain if this is related to previous church fires that have been ruled as arson.
On Wednesday night, church members gathered for an Ash Wednesday service. They told News 2 that they were shocked that this happened to their church.
Janice Pegram has attended Bethany UMC since she was a little girl. She was grateful to God that there was no major damage. Now, she's praying that this is the end of the church fires. Click on the video to hear more from church members.
The ATF has offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the church fires in Stokesdale, Oak Ridge and Summerfield, from Dec. 22, 2012 to Feb. 13, 2013.
The Rockingham County Fire Marshal and Sheriff's Office are looking for a vehicle in connection to the fire at Bethany UMC. The description they provided is: early to mid-2000 model silver Nissan Altima seen in the area of the church between 8 am to 8:15 am. The vehicle might have a Virginia license plate.
Anyone with information should contact:
Rockingham County Sheriff's Office: 634-3232
Rockingham County Fire Marshal's Office: 634-3014
WFMY News 2, Rockingham Co. Fire Marshal