Church Member: Dark SUV Seen Near Fire

In a grimly familiar scene, four rural Alabama churches in west Alabama were found burning out of control or damaged by fires early Tuesday. It's another unwanted chapter of a sad story that began early Friday in Bibb County after investigators ruled arson is to blame in fires at five country churches.

Flames were visible near the pulpit and smoke was pouring out windows when Johnny Archibald arrived at Morning Star Baptist at Boligee about 6:45 a.m. He said a side door had been forcibly opened and the fire appeared to be deliberately set near the altar, where flames were visible.

All that remain of the wood-frame building is the front steps and handrail.

Two of the four churches were destroyed and two damaged; the Bibb County fires destroyed three and damaged two. All the houses of worship were in sparsely populated areas off rural roads, similar to those in Bibb County.

Agents investigating the Bibb County fire were looking for a dark-colored SUV, possibly a Nissan Pathfinder, in connection with the blazes.

At Boligee, Archibald said he was told by a resident that an SUV was seen running through an intersection near the church without stopping.