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This is going to get "Interesting" Church Arson :-(


This is going to get "Interesting" Church Arson :-(

Old 02-02-2015, 07:03 PM
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Default This is going to get "Interesting" Church Arson :-(


A fire early Monday tore through a Hyde Park church owned by Dr. Henry Lyons, a controversial pastor who served prison time in the early 2000s for misappropriating funds.
Firefighters responded to a 911 call around 6:30 a.m. and found flames shooting from the roof of the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church at 405 N Oregon Ave. Fearing that the roof would collapse, they called for additional trucks and took a defensive approach, fighting the fire from the outside.
The roof over the large red brick building did in fact collapse, but no injuries were reported, and crews had the fire mostly under control by 8:30 a.m., according to Tampa Fire Rescue.
City leaders say it's a huge loss for the community.
“I have been here literally dozens of times over my career. I have spent many a Sundays in those church pews,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “But I know what it means to the largely elderly population that calls that home and it's unfortunate."
The church's website lists the pastor as Lyons, who was once president of the National Baptist Convention but was sentenced in 1999 to 5 1/2 years in prison for swindling about $5 million from the convention's corporate sponsors. He was released on probation in 2003, and that ended in 2008.

Lyons' problems began in 1997 when his then-wife set fire to a house in Tierra Verde the pastor shared with another woman who was the convention's public relations director, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
That fire drew attention to Lyons' personal life and finances and led to charges of grand theft and racketeering. A judge ordered Lyons to pay more than $5 million in restitution.
Built in the 1920s, New Salem Missionary Baptist Church is located just west of the University of Tampa. The church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012 after a bank attempted to foreclose on the property.

According to a preliminary report submitted Monday by the fire marshal, state and federal investigators collected evidence from the scene for further examination.
The cause of the fire remains officially "under investigation."
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