Officials Investigate Vandalism, Fires at Maryland Churches

Investigations are underway into several weekend incidents of apparent arson and vandalism at churches in Maryland, authorities said.

Montgomery County authorities said the incidents took place at three churches of different denominations a short distance away from each other in Bethesda, TV station WJLA reported.

Overnight Sunday, a blaze was apparently set at St. Jane Frances De Chantal Parish, forcing worshippers to attend mass at an alternate location Sunday morning, news outlets reported.

Dozens of firefighters responded to an alarm at the church around 2 a.m. and quickly extinguished the fire, according to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire involved several pews in the main church area, Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the agency, tweeted. No injuries were reported.

In a statement about the fire, a spokesperson from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said the archdiocese was shocked by the incident but that they are a “resilient community of faith.”

Earlier in the weekend, a fire was set at a Methodist church that was broken into, according to fire officials. Also Saturday, investigators found damaged headstones and broken wood pieces scattered around the vicinity of Wildwood Baptist Church, WJLA reported.

Reporting from Church Leaders.