By Staff, Baptist Message
SLIDELL — It’s happened again.
Bayou Baptist Church in Slidell has been hit again by a suspicious fire. On July 2 at 7:30 a.m., a neighbor called 911 reporting flames pouring the church according to a release by the Slidell Police Department.
Firefighters arrived in just over two minutes and found flames and smoke pouring from the front and rear of the 2,500 square foot building. Working quickly, the fire department was able to extinguish the fire in about 15 minutes. They reported no injuries in the blaze.
According to the fire department, the church is considered “a total loss.”
This is a second time in a year Bayou Baptist has been the victim of an arsonist. According to fire prevention officer Chad Duffaut for Fire District 1, the arsonist set the fire to cover up the burglary in October.
After the October fire, Pastor Frank Treme said the church had been rebuilt after the flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but the fire was even more devastating than Katrina.
“It’s hard for everybody in our church,” Treme said in an Oct. 27 article. “This is devastating. It’s not bad enough they violated and burglarized parts of our building but why did they have to put a fire to it?”
Treme said his congregation of 50 would come together and rise to the occasion.
“We’re not giving up because of some burglars or others who want to do harm to us,” Treme said in the same October article. “If you do that, they win and we lose. Several people from the neighborhood have dropped by and said it’s such a loss. It’s a comfort knowing that we touch so many people in this area.”
The church was in the process of being renovated.
Demolition was advancing well in preparation for new construction that was fixing to begin as new plumbing was being laid. The church was vacant and did not have electricity as of yet according to the release.
Once the fire was extinguished Saturday, members of Fire District One’s Fire Prevention Division began their assessment. Due to the suspicious nature of the fire, members of the Slidell Police Criminal Investigation Division were asked to join the investigation.
Additionally, members of the Louisiana Fire Marshall’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were asked to join the investigation also. If you have any information about either fire, please contact Detective Bertucci with the Slidell Police at 985-646-4347.
Prayers are being asked for Pastor Treme and the congregation.
Here is a video courtesy of the St. Tammany Parish Fire District 1.