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Authorities suspect arson in church fires

Fire truck
The Camerons

Columbia authorities say arson is suspected in two fires that have broken out amid a rash of vandalisms, burglaries and staff harassment at several churches.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the first fire was reported Oct. 31 at Parkade Baptist Church. The second happened five blocks away on Nov. 16 at Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel.

Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer declined to say Thursday at a news conference what is leading investigators to believe the fires were intentionally set.

Columbia Police Detective Steve Wilmoth said that patrols of churches are being stepped up in response to the problems that have been reported in recent months at about a "half a dozen" churches throughout the city. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.

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