Arson investigators looking into recent church fires

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Police are investigating whether someone tried to set fire to two St. Louis churches this weekend. One of the churches was the new Northside Missionary Baptist Church at Goodfellow and McLaran in North St. Louis where a fire started at the front doors.

The second fire happened last Thursday night in Jennings at Mount Bethel Church on Lillian Avenue.

There are signs of a fire over a boarded up side door.

No one at Mount Bethel Church would comment on the fire.

At New Northside Missionary Baptist Church the front doors are scorched from a fire set around 3am Saturday.

Both churches have predominantly African-American congregations.

The New Northside pastor says he is saddened by the attempted arson but doesn`t know if it was a case of vandalism or if his church was targeted for another reason.

Reverend Burton says it could have been a lot worse if someone in the neighborhood hadn't seen the fire and called the fire department.

He said firefighters quickly responded and put the fire out.

He and his congregation have forgiven whoever set the fire.

Burton says it will cost thousands of dollars to replace the original front doors of the church that was built-in 1948.

The pastor says the church does not have surveillance camera, but is looking to invest into a system.

The regional bomb & arson unit is investigating both incidents as arsons.

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