By: Julia Deng
HOWARD COUNTY - A "suspicious" church fire Friday morning at Christ in the Country Fellowship was likely set intentionally, investigators said.
No injuries were reported. Evidence from the scene revealed liquid accelerants had been sprayed on and around the front door, Howard County Volunteer Fire Chief Tommy Sullivan told NewsWest 9.
"This fire was not natural," he said. "There's no reason for it to have started without an outside source [or] someone helping it burn."
Officials have not identified any possible suspects or a clear motive.
The church, located on FM 846 and N County Rd 33, has previously been targeted by vandals. Fresh graffiti included swastikas, smiley faces and a quote from TV series "The Walking Dead." The spray painter may have been involved in starting the fire, investigators said.
"It's just disrespectful, what they've done to this church," said Sullivan. "Whoever did this will be punished."
He said it was "miraculous" the blaze did not reach the main section of the church. Damage was contained primarily to the front hallway and adjoining classrooms.
"Once we got the call, it took us 25 minutes to get out," said Sullivan. "This is way north of the county... windows have already been broken out on this church before and there was a draft blowing through it. This building should have been already engulfed when we got out here, but it was contained to the hallway... If you believe in God, the sanctuary is untouched."