MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Six church fires in Memphis have been reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms this year alone.
The latest incident happening Sunday night at a vacant church and local investigators say the fire was intentionally set.
Tuesday morning, crews were out on North Perkins tearing down what’s left of the First Church of Christ. The Memphis Fire Department says nearly 130 emergency personnel responded to the call that came in Sunday night just after 9 p.m.
The church was vacant, but had smoke, fire and water damage causing about $670,000 worth of damage. The building did not have a sprinkler system.
About a year ago, David Moore says his company bid on this demolition project, but a few months ago there was a setback.
"Had a fire about three months ago. That delayed the project then finally it got started again,” said Moore with David Moore Construction.
The cause of that fire was inconclusive, according to Memphis Fire, but investigators say the one over the weekend was intentionally set.
The one from June 27 happened around 2:30 a.m. in the morning. About 43 emergency personnel responded to the call.
"It happens all the time. People are destroying things and why? I don't know,” said Moore.
This is the sixth church fire in Memphis that’s been reported to The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF,in the past year.
“We are out there, as part of our model, to make sure that any houses of worship incidents are properly investigated in working with our partners,” said Michael Knight with the ATF.
Memphis Fire notifies ATF of all church fires, per protocol.
In June of this year, Memphis Fire also responded to a fire at Eastland Presbyterian Church. Investigators classified it as arson.
"Some are intentionally set. Some are ruled accidental and some may be ruled undetermined,” said Knight in a phone interview.
Ultimately, the investigation is handled by the local agency. ATF’s involvement doesn’t necessarily mean a crime happened.
ATF also says the agency uses a countrywide bomb data center, which helps identify any similarities in these cases. So far in Memphis, no connections have been.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 528-CASH.