Arson Fire Damages Church in Medford

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Police investigate two separate arson fires that occurred overnight. One appears to be the work of a suspected serial arsonist and the other fire destroyed part of a church.

Police say the first call happened just before 2 a.m. for a fire at the Zion Lutheran Church in Medford. Witnesses told police they saw two men throw something at the cross in front of the church, which set the building on fire.

Police say they’re looking for two people who threw something at the cross, possibly something like a Molotov cocktail. The flames spread up the walls of the church, damaged stained glass windows, and went into the roof.

The church council president said the flames caused an estimated $200,000 worth of damage to the building. Insurance agents were assessing the damage on Friday.

Medford Police say they are still looking for the two male suspects. They say they do not know the motive behind the fire, and won’t know for certain until they gather more information or get someone in custody.

People at the church Friday said they have no idea why someone would want to damage the church, and said their focus now is on cleaning everything up.

Several of the stained glass windows were broken during the fire; the church council president says many of those windows were created in memory of church members who had passed away. They said they will likely try to replace them.

Much of the main sanctuary room was damaged, including the roof. Church leaders said they are setting up another room to house its hundreds of members for this Sunday’s services.