3 church fires on same day declared arson

FELTON, Del. (WPVI) -- Three different fires at nearby churches, and in one case, there are only charred remains left standing.

Investigators say they were all set on purpose. Now they're trying to catch whoever is responsible before they strike again.

The fires were started at Laws Mennonite Church, Manship Chapel, and Healing Hands Christian Church.

Reverend Wilbert Moorer, pastor of the Healing Hands Church in Felton, Delaware, says it was right around 2:00 Tuesday morning when he received a call from one of his elders saying their house of worship was on fire.

By the time church officials arrived on the scene, firefighters had put out the blaze. But the building was completely destroyed.

Moorer says, "My family, my friends, the members, just couldn't understand why."

Then, within the next few hours, 911 calls were made regarding two other local churches.

First it was the Manship Chapel on Burnite Mill Road, where at least two fires inside the building were quickly knocked down.

And then it was the Laws Mennonite Church in neighboring Harrington, Delaware.

State fire officials say there is little doubt that these fires were purposely set by the same person or people.

Delaware Assistant Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio says, "I can tell you that there were multiple areas of fire origin, meaning there were separate areas that were started on fire. There were no accidental causes for the fires."

The damage at the Manship Chapel is estimated at $1,000, and it'll cost about $10,000 to repair the Mennonite Church.

But the Healing Hands Church is gone.

Pastor Moorer says that while these arsonists destroyed a building, the church is still intact.

"I already forgave them. And like I said earlier, if I see them right today, if they were hungry I would feed them. If they needed somewhere to stay, I'd give them somewhere to stay. But we knocked down but we're gonna get up again," Moorer said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333.
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