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Teens Accused of Starting Church Fire

Teens Accused of Starting Church Fire


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Courtney Orton and Whit Johnson ReportingThree teenagers could be in a lot of trouble. Fire investigators believe they intentionally set fire to a church in West Valley City.

You can't see too much from the outside, but the inside is gutted.

The building was in the middle of a remodel. Church members have poured their heart and soul into it, and the loss is just devastating.

Pastor Charlie Phim, Cambodian Christian Reformed Church, said, "This is brand new, everything is brand new."

The building had updated electrical work, the ceiling, the kitchen; now it has thousands of dollars in damage.

Phim said, "We decide to remodel it, or we decide to demolish it. We don't know yet."

For Pastor Charlie Phim and the members of the Cambodian Christian Reformed Church that decision won't come easy. "We will move forward after this. We don't want to give up with that," said Phim.

Overnight, a devastating fire ripped through their building in West Valley City. "It did take quite a few resources to get this under control said," West Valley City Assistant Chief Kris Romijn.

Witnesses told firefighters they saw three teenagers running from the scene. Romijn said, "They also stated that they possibly threw something in through the window."

The teenagers were taken into custody and could face charges of arson, criminal mischief, and burglary. "In this case, we are fortunate that nobody got hurt. This is a busy road. Certainly we could have had a crash here on 5600. A lot of things could have gone wrong," said Romijn.

Church member Dee so said, "I am hurt, and I am angry, but God taught us to forgive, and it's not a place for me to judge these kids, whoever did this."

Church members are heartbroken. This building was a work in progress. They spent nearly $15,000 and countless hours trying to clean it up. Phim said, "This is the material; all the clothes, shoes and bicycles, everything for fundraising so we can do the garage sale in the summer, so they all burned up now."

The goal was to turn it into a youth facility, a Sunday school, and a place for prayer meetings. But now, this small church will have to consider a new set of plans.

The building did not qualify for insurance. They still needed to make some improvements before it met city code.

The church would love some help from the public. If you would like to help, please go to the related link.

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