Officials investigate Episcopal church fire for ‘criminal intent,’ possible connection to LDS church fire

File photo of firefighters responding to a structure fire at Grace Episcopal Church on 900 East, St. George, Utah, Jan. 5, 2019 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — State and federal agencies are now conducting a joint criminal investigation into a fire reported at the beginning of January at the Grace Episcopal Church “to determine if any criminal intent was involved,” the St. George Police Department announced Friday.

The Utah State Fire Marshal and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined forces with local authorities in the investigation into the fire reported Jan. 5 at 1072 E. 900 South, where firefighters found the pulpit ablaze in a fire that caused approximately $2,000-$4,000 in damage to the pulpit, podium and wood flooring.

Read more: Firefighters find pulpit ablaze at church in St. George

In a press release released by St. George Police on Friday morning about the investigation, officials said it is not known if the Grace Episcopal Church fire is connected to the Jan. 26 fire at the St. George LDS East Stake Center that completely destroyed the building. “Both are open investigations,” the press release stated.

However, in a text from St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin, she said that at this point, “we don’t have any information they are connected at all.”

The St. George Police Department, Utah Fire Marshal’s Office and ATF previously launched a criminal investigation into the fire that burned though the nearly-completed LDS chapel during the early morning hours of Jan. 27 “in order to cover every possible angle,”  Aktin told media in the aftermath of the fire.

Read more: LDS church fire in downtown St. George being treated as ‘criminal investigation’

File photo of a nearly-completed chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located just east of the St. George LDS Temple was destroyed by a fire early Saturday. The cause of the fire is currently unknown, according to firefighters, St. George, Utah, Jan. 26, 2019 | Photo By Mori Kessler, St. George News

On Wednesday, it was announced that a $5,000 reward was being offered by the ATF’s Denver Field Division.

Anyone with information is being asked to call the St. George Police Department’s  tip line 435-627-4338.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

St. George News reporter Mori Kessler contributed this report.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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