Arsonist sought after fire destroys Westside church

4th arson fire at vacant church since September

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Investigators are looking for an arsonist who set fire to a vacant Westside church -- the third this year, fourth since September and second in a week.

The State Fire Marshal's Office has been investigating the fires at Church of the Epiphany at 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard. The latest fire Saturday destroyed it.

Investigators are still waiting on DNA results they took last week after a second fire. They said they believe the suspects are either vagrants or homeless in the area and that a rash of fires in the community may all be related.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department was back at the church Monday looking at the damage in daylight to get a good sense of what happened and how the latest fire started.

Gloria Bangle went to see the destruction and is devastated because it's the church she grew up in.

"There is evil in this world alive and well and flourishing, and all we can do is still not efficient enough to stop the evil," Bangle said. "And attacked God's church in such a finite way, in such an obvious way. Whoever is doing this is sick."

It's not just the church that fire officials are worried about. There have been about seven arson fires to vacant structures in the last year.

The Fire Marshal's Office said it has a good idea who might be involved, but as of yet it has not been able to make an arrest.

"I would like to find them, because if I could catch him and they found him guilty, I would like to insert his gluteus maximus up there on the top of the cross," Gary Bangle said.

A $5,000 reward is being offered in connection with the arson fires. Anyone with any information is asked to call the 877-NO-ARSON.

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