Update 7: Alleged church arsonist says he was looking for a place to stay warm, police sayTwo Dickinson churches caught fire this morning and an official says they arrested a man at about noon in connection with one of the blazes. They say he told officers he went to the church to warm up, stole items and lit a fire to cover his trail.
By: The Press staff, The Dickinson Press
Two Dickinson churches caught fire this morning and an official says they arrested a man at about noon in connection with one of the blazes. They say he told officers he went to the church to warm up, stole items and lit a fire to cover his trail.
No one was injured in either blaze.
Joshua Whitworth, 21, Dickinson was taken into custody and charged with burglary, arson and possession of stolen property in connection with a burglary and fire at the Church of Christ, according to the Dickinson Police Department.
Whitworth allegedly told police he went to the church to warm up early this morning, stole cash and other items and lit a fire to cover his tracks.
Police do not suspect he was involved with a fire at Hillside Baptist Church, which occurred at about the same time this morning. They also do not believe the fire at Hillside was started by arson.
Church of Christ preacher Kenneth Anderson said this morning that someone broke a window and rewired a furnace at the church so it would not turn off.
There were no injuries at the Church of Christ and firefighters at Hillside would not answer questions at the scene.
The west side of the Church of Christ is black and firefighters said flames were shooting out of the building when they arrived.
The Gladstone Fire Department had firefighters on standby in case of other incidents, said the Gladstone fire chief, who was at Church of Christ on behalf of the Red Cross.
The American Red Cross West Dakota Chapter was also at the churches, according to a press release.
“The American Red Cross will provide nutrition and hydration to emergency personnel until the fires are extinguished," Executive Director Janel Schmitz said. "It is truly an honor for us to support these brave individuals.”
No number is listed for Whitworth.
The Press will update its website as information becomes available. See tomorrow's paper for a full story and photos.