September 24, 2021

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Police in Pennsylvania arrest man for setting church on fire twice

2 min read
Police in Pennsylvania arrest man for setting church on fire twice

Pennsylvania police arrested a suspect in connection to two separate arson fires at the same church earlier this week.

43-year-old Wilmer J. Ortiz Torres was arrested Friday and charged with arson, burglary and criminal trespass in the two fires that occurred between Tuesday and Thursday at the Iglesia Pentecostal de Bethlehem, police said in a statement.

The first of the fires erupted on Tuesday just before midnight. Police said that “it appears an individual entered the sanctuary area of the church and intentionally started the fire.”

Even though the fire had already burned itself out by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, heavy smoke could be seen emanating from the building and firefighters had to vent out the building to allow smoke to escape.

There were no injuries reported and the damage appeared to be due mostly to smoke, soot, and heat.

The second fire occurred around 2 a.m. on Thursday morning. Police said that the fire was extinguished quickly and that it was contained to the roof of the building, where officials said it appeared someone had climbed up and ignited an accelerant.

Torres was arrested on Friday in Allentown and arraigned on criminal charges Friday night, police said. It was not immediately clear if he had any connection to the church.

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