(RNS) — About 100 investigators are working to find who is behind a series of church fires that have struck rural areas of Louisiana in recent weeks.
The fires, which have prompted calls for prayer by the state’s governor, destroyed three predominantly black churches in St. Landry Parish, around Opelousas, in late March and early April and caused minor damage to a mostly white Pentecostal church in Vivian, about 200 miles north in Caddo Parish.
Ashley Rodrigue, a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal, said investigators have yet to determine if the three fires at historic Baptist churches in Opelousas and Port Barre are related or if any of them are tied to one at the church in Vivian. But she said the number of investigators is unusually high. It includes 40 federal staffers, including agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; 40 state agency workers; and 20 people from local agencies.