Suspected arson arises in a historic black church in South Austin, Texas. According to the Austin Police Department, the fire is thought to have been set by an “inciteful” device and started at the Goodwill Baptist Church just before midnight.
On the bright side, nobody was hurt, but the fire nonetheless left behind severe damage, including $50,000 in contents damage and structural damage totaling $150,000. The incident is still under investigation.
Arson in Historic Black Church Being Investigated
According to Fox News, Goodwill Baptist Church Senior Pastor Kelvin Austin received a late call on Monday that the church was on fire. The Austin Fire Department investigators later concluded that someone had intentionally started the fire using an “incendiary device,” causing $200,000 worth of damages.
The church and sanctuary suffered smoke and water damage throughout the building. Charred pieces were everywhere, with glass windows in the harbor also burned. The building has since been boarded up. According to Austin, the destruction of the historical icon that had been in the community for a long time has been deeply heartbreaking.
In the report by KXAN Austin, the Austin Fire Department responded quickly to the fire at Goodwill Baptist Church and extinguished it in about five minutes. Neighbors are also shocked and saddened by the incident and cannot understand why anyone would target the historic Black church.
The church’s senior pastor, Kelvin Austin, stated that despite the damage caused, their spirit is not broken, and he plans to uplift the congregation. The church plans to use the unexpected incident to inspire its following Sunday sermon.
The Austin Fire Department confirmed that there is now a criminal investigation into the arson, but they did not disclose the type of incendiary device used. The primarily elderly congregation is thankful that no one was inside the church when the fire occurred.
Another source, Fox 7 Austin, says that the Austin Fire Department received a prompt notification from citizens about the fire at Goodwill Baptist Church and was able to extinguish it quickly. The fire department also worked carefully to minimize damage to the building while preserving its historical significance.
However, there is still smoke and water damage. An investigation has been launched into the fire, and Austin fire officials believe it was intentionally set. The fire is classified as incendiary since it started in a place where there was no cause for a fire. A reward of up to $1,000 is available for any information that leads to an arrest concerning the arson.
Also Read: West Virginia Church Burns To The Ground In Suspected Arson Attack
What is Arson?
Arson is a crime that involves intentionally setting fire to property, resulting in damage or destruction. According to Britannica, originally, English common law defined arson as the burning of someone’s dwelling that endangered human life. However, modern statutes have expanded the definition to include the illegal burning of public or private property.
Arson laws are divided into different degrees, and heavier punishments are reserved for burnings that threaten human life, such as habitable dwellings, vehicles, bridges, and forests. In most countries, an arsonist may be prosecuted for murder if someone dies due to the act, even if the intention to kill is absent. Some jurisdictions have higher penalties for arson committed to conceal or destroy evidence of another crime.
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