Arson investigation launched after early morning fire destroys 107-year-old church in Vinita

Posted at 6:07 PM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-23 19:07:43-04

VINITA, Okla. -- Authorities are investigating a fire that destroyed an historic church as arson.

Firefighters responded to calls about a large fire at the Fourth Street Mission, located at 439 N. Fourth Street in Vinita, at about 5:20 Tuesday morning. Despite their best efforts, crews could not save the church from the towering flames that consumed it.

Pastor Mick Fry told police that he fears a disgruntled member of his church may have set the fire that destroyed the building.

"It's kind of sad to see all that history gone," Fry said, holding back tears. "There were pictures in there, people that are long gone, and can never be replaced."

An agent with the state fire marshal's office spent hours Tuesday sifting through the melted metal roof and burned wreckage trying to piece together what exactly happened.

Fry said there is very little that he can salvage, noting the loss of many items including the prized pews that the church's first pastor made by hand back in 1910.

"My uncle, when he was about four years old, carried rocks for the foundation to the original church building that still stood until this morning," Fry said.

He would now like to rebuild the church, but plans will have to be put on hold until he and his wife can collect enough money to do so. They are also awaiting the results of the investigation since authorities are now looking into his claim that someone set it intentionally.

"Like the Bible says, you can hurt this fleshly body," Fry said, "but you can't hurt what's within. It's forever."

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