CORY -- If anyone saw someone or a vehicle near Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church between the hours of 6-7 a.m. Tuesday, officials would like to hear from them.
"This was an intentionally set fire," Clay County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Rob Gambill told The Brazil Times. "If anyone saw something, anything, it could be very important to this case."
Because the fire was reported and put out quickly without extensive damage to the structure, officials established the short time frame because the fire couldn't have been burning too long before it was spotted.
Gambill said people should not be afraid to report what they think might be insignificant pieces of information about the ongoing investigation because "many cases have been solved by the smallest of details."
According to information provided by officials, shortly after 7 a.m., Tuesday, a caller reported to 911 dispatchers at the Clay County Justice Center there was a fire at Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church, located at the intersection of County Road 200 North and County Road 250 West.
Quick action by the Cory Township and Center Point Township Volunteer Fire Departments helped save the more than 145-year-old church, which dates back to the civil war era, from a "suspicious" fire Tuesday morning.
Firefighters saw flames on the cellar roof over a portion of the basement area behind the church when they arrived. Although the shingles were on fire, firefighters were able to quickly contain the fire within 20 minutes.
Due to several suspicious fires occurring in the past several months in the areas of Posey, Perry, Jackson and Sugar Ridge Townships in Clay County, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Division of Fire and Building Safety was immediately contacted to investigate.
Assistant Chief of Investigations for the Division of Fire and Building Safety Fred Daffer determined an undisclosed accelerant was used to start the fire early Tuesday afternoon.
Because in some instances the intentional burning of a church is a federal crime, Daffer notified the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms of the church fire.
To report information about this case, or any other, contact the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 812-446-2535 or by using the Arson Reporting Hot Line at 1-800-382-4628.