Church-owned home in Carver set afire by arsonist; authorities offer $5,000 reward

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the person who set fire last Wednesday to a church-owned home in Carver, officials said today.

At about 10:46 p.m., dispatchers received a 911 call reporting a house fire at 307 Tremont St. in the South Shore town.

“The materials used to light the fire were definitely suspicious,” Carver Fire Chief Craig Weston said today.

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The home is owned by the Southern New England Assembly of God and is located roughly 50 yards away from the church building on the assembly’s campus, said Greg Wheaton, the Southeastern Massachusetts representative for the Southern New England Assembly of God.

The house was designated for use by the church’s pastor, but was not occupied at the time of the fire, Wheaton said. The church has been closed since February 2012, when the former pastor and his wife became very ill and had to suspend services.

Barry Hanson, a pastor, and his family were scheduled to move into the house on Sept. 1 as part of a broader plan to reopen the church, which will now be known as the Crossroads Assembly, in 2014, said Wheaton.

According to the fire chief, the fire was stopped in the kitchen and attic areas, and took about 20 minutes to bring under control.

Wheaton said fire investigators told him the blaze was ignited with gasoline.

Wheaton said the relationship between the church and the community has been positive, and added that he could not think of anyone with a motive to burn church property.

Church officials said they are still planning to renovate the house and move the Hanson family in before scheduled services commence on Easter.

“We are absolutely committed to reopening the church,” Wheaton said. “The fire is just going to mess with our time frame.”

Police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the perpetrator or perpetrators. Anyone in the area at the time of the fire who saw suspicious vehicles or individuals is encouraged to contact the Carver Police Department at 508-866-2000.

The state Fire Marshal’s office is also offering up to $5,000 for information regarding the fire.