Arson was the cause of a three-alarm fire that raced through Pleasant Zion Baptist Church April 10, Baltimore County Police said.

“The case remains very active. Our investigators are pursuing a number of leads. They are taking a look at other arsons that have occurred in the area to see if there might be any connection between the church fire and other fires,” Elise Armacost, Baltimore County Public Safety communications director, said.

Baltimore County firefighters responded to reports of flames coming from two sheds behind the church at 7:38 p.m., emergency officials said. The fire spread to the church, causing the roof to burn.

The National Weather Service said the combination of high winds and low humidity increases the risk of fire spreading to other structures.

“Damages right now are estimated at $400,000,” said Dr. James Gray, pastor of Pleasant Zion Baptist Church. “They’re working on the place now, taking all of that stuff out. It’s going to take about four to six months.”

Gray said that during repair period, services will be held at nearby Shiloh Baptist Church.

“It’s just tragic that someone feels the need to come against the church in such a vehement way,” said Dr. Cleveland Mason, vice president of the Baptist Ministers Conference. “We stand here to support them and whatever we can do we will do.”

There were no fatalities or injuries reported.

A reward of up to $2,000 will be paid for information leading to an arrest in the case.

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Pleasant Zion Fire Stokes Hope in Pastor Gray


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer