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Officials: Gideon Grove Church fire considered intentional

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(Photo courtesy: Henry County Department of Public Safety)

STOKESDALE, N.C. – Rockingham County fire officials say the fire at Gideon Grove Church last month in Stokesdale has officially been ruled as intentional.

Authorities say that laboratory test results have confirmed that an ignitable liquid was used to start the blaze.

Another fire was reported the next day at Mount Zion United Methodist Church about five miles away. Officials are considering that fire arson. Investigators said they believe the crimes are related.

More than 75 firefighters responded to the fire at Gideon shortly after 11 p.m. at 2865 Gideon Grove Church Road on Dec. 22.

The fire torched the sanctuary and rows of pews. No injuries were reported.

Officials also said Bethel United Methodist at 8424 Haw River Road was damaged in a fire on Wednesday, the third incident in two weeks.

Anyone with information can call the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office at (336) 634-3232, the Rockingham County Fire Marshal’s Office at (336) 634-3300 or Rockingham County Crimestoppers at 336-349-9683.