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Arson determined as cause of church fire

VALLEY CITY -- Investigators say arson was the cause of a church fire that did more than $1 million in damage Monday morning.

Valley City Fire Chief Gary Retterath said today that with the assistance of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state fire marshals, "We all agreed that it was a set fire at the church."

The investigation at Faith Lutheran Church is being turned over to federal and state investigators and the Valley City Police Department, Retterath said.

The fire happened around 4 a.m. Monday, causing damage to the east side of the building.

Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson said Monday that authorities were looking into the possibility of the fire being related to a late-September string of church burglaries in Valley City, but it was "too early to tell."

Faith Lutheran Church will hold a congregational meeting at 6 p.m. today to pray outside the church and discuss plans over a meal in the basement of St. Catherine's Catholic Church.

Donation funds for Faith Lutheran Church have been set up at Dacotah Bank and Bank Forward in Valley City.