MANDEVILLE, La. — Officials say a fire at a small predominantly black church in Louisiana was caused by arson.

The Advocate reports the fire occurred at the New Life Bible Center in the part of the city known as Old Mandeville about 9 a.m. Monday.

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s chief deputy, Brant Thompson, says a passer-by noticed smoke engulfing the building and reported the fire. No injuries were reported, but Thompson says three people were sleeping inside. One person was awakened by a noise and alerted the others.

Officials say the church has reported the theft of altar money in the last two months.

Nothing was stolen in the fire, but investigators found signs of forced entry.

Thompson says investigators are reviewing video surveillance footage from nearby to identify a suspect.

Information from: The Advocate,

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.