Police Rule Out Arson In Blaze That Destroyed Yaphank Presbyterian Church

YAPHANK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A more than 160-year-old Long Island church has been gutted by a fire that blazed through the sanctuary hours before Sunday’s service. But congregants gathered and gave thanks that no one was hurt.

The Suffolk County Police Department said investigators have determined there was nothing criminal about Sunday’s fire at the Yaphank Presbyterian Church. It was reported around 2 a.m.

The Rev. Glorya Johnson said the flames left only the walls standing in the sanctuary of the 1851 building. Stained-glass windows were destroyed.

Johnson said it appears a heating-system problem sparked the blaze in the wooden church. It has about 50 members.

Sunday morning’s service was held in another building on the church property.

Police said graffiti found on an exterior wall of the church is not related to the fire. The graffiti had been there for at least two days, and similar vandalism was found on two other nearby buildings in Yaphank.

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