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$5,000 Reward for Information on Valley City Arson - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

$5,000 Reward for Information on Valley City Arson

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© NewsDakota.com © NewsDakota.com

NOVEMBER 4 UPDATE

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), St. Paul Field Division Special Agent in Charge Scott D. Sweetow announced a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of the those responsible for the arson fire at Faith Lutheran Church in Valley City, N.D. 

At approximately 3:41 a.m. on October 21, a fire was reported at the Faith Lutheran Church.  The Valley City Fire Department was able to put the fire out, but not before it caused approximately $2.2 million dollars in damages.

ATF, Valley City Fire Department and the North Dakota State Fire Marshal's Office conducted a fire scene examination and determined that the fire was deliberately set. The Valley City Police Department and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation are also assisting with the investigation.

"This arson was a deliberate attack on a house of worship destroying a local piece of history and testing one's understanding of how someone could commit such a cowardly crime," said Sweetow.

Investigators are seeking the public's help in solving this crime and are hopeful that the reward will provide additional leads in this investigation.

Anyone with information about the arson should call the following numbers, which are operational 24-hours per day, seven days a week; and callers can remain anonymous.   

  • ATF-Bismarck Satellite Office: (701) 328-9893
  • Valley City Police Department: (701) 845-3110
  • North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation: (701) 845-5556

OCTOBER 24 UPDATE

A fire that did more than $1 million in damage to a Valley City church has been ruled arson.

Police Chief Fred Thompson says the investigation to who started the blaze at Faith Lutheran Church is in progress.

The fire started around 4:00 AM Monday morning.  Fire Chief Gary Retterath says when crews arrived flames were shooting out an office window.

Faith Lutheran was one of 4 Valley City churches recently targeted by burglars.  That investigation is still ongoing as well.

A donation fund for Faith Lutheran Church has been set up at Dacotah Bank and Bank Forward in Valley City.

UPDATE

A fire rips through a Valley City church this morning and officials are still looking into the cause. The fire happened at Faith Lutheran Church just before 4 o'clock this morning. It caused more than one million dollars in damages according to officials on the scene. Valley News team's Eric Crest went to Valley City to take a firsthand look at a congregation that's starting to pick up the pieces.

A house of worship like Faith Lutheran in Valley City is accustomed to leaving it's doors open for all.

"I think the building here was probably built in the early 1900's," says Tory Hart the Council President of Faith Lutheran Church.

But today they're boarding it up, covering the windows, blocking the doors, and they don't want anyone going inside because of all of the potential risks.

"I happened to drive by and see the fire trucks and firemen here a little before six," says Hart who happened to see the fire on the way to work.

The Valley City Fire Chief, Gary Retterath says an employee at the grocery store next door to the church called in the concern, "someone smelled something so obviously they called us out, and we got here and there was quite a bit of fire coming out of this east side."

The fire took nearly three hours to put out. The aftermath left almost everything inside charred. The fire is believed to have started in the basement. But the million dollar question, how did it start?

"I don't know," says Fire Chief Retterath.

They don't have all the answers yet. But they do have a lot of work ahead.

"It does look extensive. I think our next step is we're gonna meet as a council and later as a congregation and talk. And I would think we'll make something positive out of this fire and go on," says Hart.

The Valley City Fire Chief has estimated there's probably more than one million dollars of damage to this early 19th century church. But even in these trying times church leaders are encouraging their congregation, to keep the faith.

"Well I think number one nobody was hurt. Which is good. And I think our congregation is strong and resilient and they'll make good decisions and Faith Lutheran Church will have a future," says Hart.

So as the congregation closes the doors, they start to think about the weeks and months ahead when they will hopefully open them back up.

"With God's help it will survive," says Hart.

Leaders of Faith Lutheran Church have scheduled a prayer service outside of their church Wednesday at 6 p-m. Following that the congregation has been invited to use Saint Catherine's Church in Valley City to enjoy dinner and discuss upcoming plans for their future. Check out the full press release from the church below.

Faith Lutheran Church of Valley City

October 21, 2013

Upcoming Schedule

Wednesday October 23, 2013

· After School: Kids Club will be held after school with Holly picking up students

· 4:00 pm Confirmation Class meeting at Our Saviors 7th - 9th graders

· Congregational Meeting Wednesday October 23rd, 2013

6:00 pm Prayer out side Faith Lutheran Church Building

6:30 pm Congregational meeting and meal at St Catherine's Church basement

Sunday October 27, 2013

· 8:30 am Worship and Affirmation of Baptism Trinity Lutheran Church Valley City

· 10:00 am Gift for Children and Families Trinity fellowship hall

Regular worship services and office locations to be determined later this week.

Donation funds have been set up at both Dacotah Bank and Bank Forward.

ORIGINAL STORY

The North Dakota state Fire Marshall has been called in to investigate a fire at Faith Lutheran Church in Valley City.

Witnesses report heavy damage to the building.

According to NewsDakota.com the fire started around 4:00 AM Monday morning.  Fire Chief Gary Retterath says when crews arrived flames were shooting out an office window.

Damage estimates are being reported at more than one million dollars.

Valley News Live has a crew heading to Valley City.  Stay tuned for updates.

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