$10K Offered in Ala. Church Fires

Rewards totaling $10,000 were offered Saturday in the investigation of the fires that damaged or destroyed five rural churches along winding country roads south of Birmingham.

Gov. Bob Riley said a $5,000 reward was being offered by the state, and a $5,000 reward was posted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Riley and other officials spoke at a news conference in front of the ruins of Ashby Baptist Church, one of three houses of worship destroyed by the fires early Friday.

Members of the Ashby church in Brierfield promised to rebuild.

Two other Bibb County churches were damaged.

One or more arsonists apparently drove along rural roads and stopped to ignite the fires in sanctuaries one after the other, investigators said.

No arrests had been made and authorities said the motive had not been determined.

In 1996, race was a factor in a series of arsons that damaged rural black churches in Alabama and elsewhere. But this week's fires were set at four white churches and one with a black congregation.