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Arson Suspected at Assyrian Church

Posted: Monday, September 24, 2001 at 05:42 PM CT


CHICAGO, Illinois -- A North Side Christian church with a congregation of Middle Eastern descent was set afire in a suspected arson incident early Sunday, causing an estimated $200,000 in damage.

Police were called to St. John's Assyrian American Church in the 1400 block of West Lawrence Avenue by a passerby who saw smoke at 3:55 a.m. The church's pastor, Rev. Charles Kluetz, said he believed the fire was started by someone who pushed a wad of paper through a mail slot and dropped a match onto it.

Firefighters contained the blaze to the west side of the building, bringing it under control by 4:20 a.m., Kluetz said.

The fire is being investigated as an arson, said police spokesman Matthew Jackson.

Church items ruined by smoke and fire included a copier, fax machine, wall hangings and carpeting, and water damage occurred throughout.



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