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Local church has 4 fires since March

Pastor wants to know who's responsible and why
Church has 4 fires in less than 6 months
Posted at 5:10 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 02:17:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — A local pastor says his church has had four fires since March, and he wants to know who’s responsible and why.

KGUN9 checked in with the church and pastor to find out about the latest incident and what the church is planning to do next. We first met Pastor Gene Chewning at the Living Word Church at 3602 South 12th Avenue in March of this year, the church is known as a multi-denominational church in the neighborhood.

Back then, the church had just suffered a fire in its Sunday school building and theft. The church lost bibles, artifacts and costumes for their Easter service. At the time Tucson Fire couldn't find a cause, but the pastor says the first fire was suspicious, and it wouldn’t be the last.

"It was our auxiliary building my office and library, Chewing said in March of 2020.

"The second one was considered arson, third one both police and fire investigators told me it was arson and the fourth the fire department told me it was incendiary," Chewning said.

Here’s a breakdown of the dates, the first fire was on March 3rd , the second set on April 17th the third was May 9th and the most recent was on Monday July 13th. The fires left nothing but burned out wood and questions for parishioners.

"I forgive them and I don't want them to burn my church or anyone else's church or home again," Chewning said.

Pastor Chewning is working with the city of Tucson to get the structure torn down.

The cost is about $20,000, a price the pastor says the church can't afford. Tucson Police and Fire say they're still investigating and have yet to confirm with KGUN9 if the fires have all been identified as arson.

"I'm almost certain that the shed was burned by homeless people because the day before it burned we drove them out with police. To get a new building a new double-wide will cost about $95,000 and we don't have the money to cover that," Chewning said.

For information on the church, visit here.