'Suspicious' Burlington church fire under investigation

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy: Hawkeye, Matt Ryerson

UPDATED: April 19 at 9:41 a.m.

The Union Baptist Church fire has been labeled as intentionally set.

Burlington Fire Marshall Mark Crooks, the State Fire Marshals Investigator, ATF agents and DCI crime scene unit responded to document the scene, collect evidence and determined that the fire was intentionally set.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is prepared to offer a reward up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the person or persons responsible for this crime.

The Burlington Area Crime Stoppers is also offering a reward of up to $1,000 for the same information.

You can contact them by phone at (31) 753-6835, or by leaving a tip online at


UPDATED: April 18 at 4:05 p.m.

Margaret Stone has been attending the Union Baptist Church since was a baby and when her phone rang early Saturday morning, it was something she did not expect to hear.

"So I jumped right up. I'm about two to three minutes away and I came right over and smoke was just billowing out of our new side which is our sanctuary part now and it was heartbreaking," said Stone.

Stone says the culprits who might have started the fire broke in through a door on the north side of the church.

She also told us that investigators told the church that there were at least two places where fires were found inside the building. But she still doesn't understand why someone would want to set fire to a church.

"But they do need prayer. You know I pray for people all the time that aren't my best friends and I still pray for them because they need prayer. And if the person actually destroyed a church, they definitely need prayer," said Stone

As for now, the church board is still looking for a place to hold their holy week services. But they know they'll rebuild at their current location.

Stone says the church congregation is also wanting to thank firefighters who managed to spare the large stained glass window during the blaze.

KHQA's Jim Whitfield will take a close look at what challenges Union Baptist Church's congregation will face going into Easter following the Saturday fire. Continue to check this story for updates.


Investigators are looking in to what caused an overnight church fire in Burlington, Iowa Saturday. As of Sunday afternoon, the fire is still being called 'suspicious.'

A Burlington Police Officer discovered smoke and flames coming from inside of the Union Baptist Church, at 220 S. Central Street, just after midnight.

The Burlington Fire Department responded to the scene. The church was left with moderate damage. Once the Burlington Fire Marshal arrived on scene, he found the fire to be 'suspicious.'

According to the Burlington Hawkeye, the question now is where to hold Sunday church service. Rev. Lawrence Manson has received calls from several churches and will make a decision on where Sunday's service will be held later Saturday.

The Burlington Police Department Criminal Investigation Division, State Fire Marshall TMs Office, Davenport Fire Department K-9 Unit, Division of Criminal Investigation Division Crime Scene Unit, Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have responded to the scene and will be assisting with the investigation of the fire.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Burlington Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at (319) 753-8375 or Burlington Area Crime Stoppers at (319) 753-6835 or submit your tip online at