BETHLEHEM, Pa. (CBS) – Another fire ripped through the same church in Bethlehem that was targeted by an arsonist just two days ago. Police are now urging the public to be on the lookout near the church.
Firefighters rushed to the smoke billowing from the Iglesia Pentecostal de Bethlehem around 2 a.m. on Thursday and quickly put out the flames. It’s the second time crews were called there since Tuesday.
On Thursday, parishioners wiped away tears as detectives focused much of their investigation on the church roof that remains standing. No one was injured.
But more than 50 years of memories inside the Iglesia Pentecostal de Bethlehem are now in ruins. Everything from the altar to pews and even religious items are destroyed after two fires in two days.
“When you first see it, it impacts you,” parishioner Lucy Valzquez said. “It’s like seeing a close family member that passed.”
Police say the first fire was an arson. Whoever did it broke through the front door that’s now boarded up.
Church members say police told them the second fire is likely related.
“Who would do this again? They already burned everything inside,” Nitza Colon, a pastor’s daughter, said. “What else can you burn? What else can you burn here? It doesn’t make sense at all.”
On Thursday, detectives focused much of their investigation on the roof of the church.
Church members want whoever set the flames here to turn themselves in.
“God will forgive him,” Valzquez said, “and the people of the church of Bethlehem will forgive him.”
“There’s going to be something great that comes out of this,” parishioner Jaslynn Cruz said. “We’re going to build bigger and better.”
Still, many are left wondering what kind of person would want to set fire to their place of worship – possibly twice in less than 48 hours.
“It’s ridiculous what’s going on right now,” Colon said. “When we got the call this morning it was like who would do this again? The law knows how to take justice and we just pray for that person because we don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
Authorities are hoping a $5,000 reward will help them find the person who started the fire.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact police at 610-691-6660.