ARLINGTON — Arson has been ruled as the cause of a Nov. 12 fire that fully destroyed a Nazarene church — the oldest building in the downtown area of this Eastern Oregon city.
It was the second fire this year at the church, built in the 1890s and located at 600 Main St.. On July 9, a suspicious fire had damaged the building’s exterior and smoke and water damaged the inerior extensively. Repair work was nearing completion, and David Gossett, who became the church’s lead pastor in September, had hoped to have services inside by Christmas.
A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible; the arson hotline is 1-800-452-7888.
Gossett told Portland’s KPTV Channel 12 that the church is more than a building, it is made up of people who trust God in spite of circumstances. He said the structure will be rebuilt; in the meantime, services will be held in a nearby youth center.
The November fire was reported at 4:36 a.m.. A sheriff’s deputy and 20 firefighters from four fire vehicles responded from Arlington, Condon, Boardman and Sherman County. Gilliam County deputies investigated the blaze with the help of the Oregon State Police Arson Unit and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.