Juvenile suspect held in connection with Hopewell church fire

Updated: Apr. 8, 2019 at 7:39 PM EDT
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PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - Investigators say at least two people are involved in the fire that burned down the Hopewell Church of the Nazarene, but only one may be looking at charges that include arson and burglary.

Heavy smoke and flames met firefighters late Friday night, taking crews about three hours to put out the flames.

Hopewell Assistant Fire Marshall Jamie Scott said firefighters originally planned to get inside the structure, but had to pull back for safety.

“There was a roof collapse in the center of the structure, so they had a lot of fire underneath that roof, then it collapsed. We saw a lot of hot spots there,” Scott said.

Investigators say the fire was intentionally started in the sanctuary of the church, with a lighter-type device.

“There were multiple people there, but we believe only one person was actually involved in setting the fire,” Scott said.

Detention orders were filed Monday against a juvenile suspect, who is being held. Scott said the second person’s involvement was not criminal, so its not likely they will be charged.

The prime suspect could be facing a string of charges such as arson, burglary, trespassing, grand larceny, and vandalism.

Scott said, considering the extent of the damage, this church is a total loss.

“There’s significant fire damage," Scott said. “Anything that wasn’t fire damaged, was damaged by heat, or smoke, or water."

In a facebook post, the church says that it holds no ill will and that it is actually working to develop a rebuilding plan.

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