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Suspect arrested after weekend church fire

Waurika_A church fire in Waurika over the weekend has led to an arrest.  Church officials say they believe 19-year-old Justin Adams set fire to the First United Methodist Church after arguing with family members who told him to leave.  Adams is from Wichita Falls and was visiting family members in Waurika on Saturday prior to the fire.  18 hours later, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) investigators arrested Adams in the Falls after finding footprints on carpet samples, along with other items from the church, in his home.  Church officials say that now that authorities have Adams in custody, they can focus on the difficult task of rebuilding their church.

Damage to the church is estimated at $1 million.  Police say that before Adams started the fire he ransacked the building, causing even more damage.  Multiple rooms in the church were egged, furniture and windows shattered, and light fixtures ripped out.  Waurika City Manager and firefighter Chuck Brown said it took only hours to turn the once place of warship into what appeared to be a war zone. 

Lamps were melted and Bibles scorched, but Reverend Trevor Smith says despite that the building was destroyed, it didn't stop worship in a high school band room on Sunday.  "It doesn't stop us from being God's people in this place, and from worshipping the God that will sustain us though this," he said.  And although a sense of loss is surely felt, the town is seeing a tighter union through God. 

The members say they hope to get back to worshipping in the church as soon as possible, but until then, the congregation intends to pray for Adams, or whoever is responsible.  "The people who did this, they need God's love as much as we do," said Smith.

Police say they are still unsure if anyone else was involved in the arson, and 7News will continue to keep you updated.  Adams faces charges of second-degree arson, and second-degree burglary.  He remains in jail in Wichita Falls.

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