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JACKSONVILLE, NC (AP) — Investigators say a fire at a downtown Jacksonville church was intentionally set.

Authorities told The Daily News of Jacksonville that they ruled out stray fireworks, homeless squatters or any other cause for the blaze that began around 1:30 a.m. Thursday in the fellowship hall of Wings of Faith Ministries.

The church was being renovated and had no electricity. Damage was estimated at $200,000.

Church owner Joseph Morgan says he suspects criminals in the area set the church on fire because they didn’t like his efforts to clean up the neighborhood.

Morgan says he will continue to hold church services in a nearby building and is accepting donations to help him begin renovations again.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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