Man charged in arson fire of tent and church building

Arson fire destroys church building
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 12:18 AM EST
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UPDATE 1/19/22 @ 5:46 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A man has been charged in an arson fire that Charleston Fire investigators say spread to the St. John’s Episcopal church building late Tuesday night.

It was around 2 a.m. in the morning when the Rev. Michelle Boomgaard, the priest in charge, got the call about the fire and she rushed there.

“It’s been a center of outreach and ministry for over 40 years,” Boomgaard said.

The center was a second hand clothing shop that served the Charleston community.

Charleston fire investigators say the fire started after an altercation between two men. Firefighters say one of the two came back and lit the other man’s tent on fire situated near the building. Charleston Fire Marshal Richard Symns said the man is being charged with arson, and the building is unsalvageable.

“The guy that was sleeping in the tent he was our witness he told us that a male returned and he lit a bottle as like a wick and he threw it at his tent” Symns said.

For the community of people that relied on clothes and other things inside the shop, the building will be a loss.

“We lost a building, but it could have been so much worse,” Boomguard said. “We are praying for more enduring solutions to all of the hardships that we face, and there is a lot of hardship out there and this will be a temporary setback to see where God is calling us next.”

Symns said when the man is arrested, firefighters can release his name.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Charleston firefighters battled a fire late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning in the 1100 block of Quarrier Street, our crew at the scene reports.

The fire was reported just after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

It happened at a storage building next to St. John’s Episcopal Church.

According to Charleston’s assistant fire chief, the fire started outside of the building. It spread to the attic and went through the roof line.

The assistant fire chief says the city has already torn down the building.

Investigators are now speaking with witnesses.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

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