Authorities: Clinton Hill church fire may be case of arson

Church leaders say the flames were contained to the building's front hallway.

Church leaders say the flames were contained to the building's front hallway. (12/23/12)

CLINTON HILL - Fire officials are investigating whether a Clinton Hill church fire is a case of arson.

The early morning fire at the Church of St. Mark and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill has caused a temporary suspension of church services.

Officials say three members of the church's security team awoke to the smell of smoke at around 4 a.m. Sunday morning. The security team ran downstairs to find a huge fire in the front hall of the church.

Four gas cans were discovered empty outside the church, which dates back to the 1900s. Church officials say they were going to donate the cans to a family in Far Rockaway. Two doorways had been doused in the gasoline and then lit on fire, church officials say.

No one was hurt in the fire, which was contained to the main foyer area. Dozens of toys that were inside the church for needy families also were left untouched by the flames.

Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
 

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