State and Federal Investigators Probe Alabama Church Fires

State and federal investigators probing Alabama's ten church fires now say they found a lot of good forensic evidence after the most recent blaze.

Beaverton Freewill Baptist Church was set on fire about 4:00 Saturday afternoon. Authorities say an eyewitness saw someone leave the church as the fire started.

A mountain of evidence was left after some of the fires, only bits in others. But each scene tells a story.

"It's a pretty good scene forensically," said an ATF agent. "I think we'll do pretty good on it."

Six of the burned churches were destroyed. Dogs were brought in to help in the investigation.

"When there's only soot and ash, the arson dogs can prove to be invaluable," said dog trainer Ricky Farley.

"A dog can detect one fifth of a needle drop of accelerant," explained at one of the fire scenes. "So, these flags may indicate where the arson investigators think they saw something marked."

At Dancy Church came one of the most intriging clues. Investigators say they believe the culprits tried to escape through the front door.

Pastor Walter Hawkins of the Dancy Church says, "They apparently came out this way and tried to open the door but it wouldn't open. It was a deadbolt so they couldn't get out. So they apparently tried to get out the other door, that's where the other hand print was."

Authorities are asking the arsonists to contact them, telling the suspects they understand that the incident must have been frightening.

Jim Cavenaugh, an ATF Investigator says, "maybe it got a little smoky on them, a little hot, and there's evidence a door stuck and they were in there longer than they thought these things can flip on you, could be trapped and killed."

Authorities are looking for at least two white men in either their twenties or thirties, who are strong enough to kick down doors and agile enough to escape a raging fire.

Profilers believe they are close friends. The ATF has released a phone number, address, and e-mail address for the arsonists only. This information has been broadcast on WSFA 12 News, but is not included in this on-line report at the request of investigators.

Reporter: Sally Pitts