Arson blamed in Lynn church fire; authorities offer $5,000 reward

Fire investigators have determined a three-alarm fire that devoured a 118-year-old Lynn church building was the result of arson, and are offering up to $5,000 for information about who lit the blaze, the State Fire Marshal’s office said today.

Shortly after 5 a.m. May 22, the Lynn Fire Department responded to the El Siloe Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Liberty Street. The fire could not be contained and gutted the building.

“Arson is not a victimless crime and arson of a house of worship causes fear and anxiety in the fabric of the entire community,” State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in a statement.

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In the weeks leading up to the fire, the church had experienc4ed a rash of vandalism. First Elder Abner Polynice, 58, said the fire had frightened some members of the congregation who couldn’t fathom why their church was targeted.

In the wake of the fire, the church’s congregation has been meeting at various locations, but they plan to rebuild at the same location, Polynice said.

“We’re looking [to build] a bigger place. The location was a little too small before,” he said.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the state’s 24-hour, anonymous arson hotline at 1-800-682-9229.