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Rochester church gives update on arson investigation, damage to church

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 11:35 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Peace United Church of Christ held a news conference Thursday morning regarding the arson investigation.

On April 18, the church, located on 1503 2nd Avenue NE in Rochester, caught fire overnight.

Rochester Police Department (RPD) and Rochester Fire Department (RFD) determined the fire to be arson. The fire caused more than $2.5 million in damages to the church.

Fire Damage
Fire Damage(KTTC)

According to RPD, there are no suspects right now and the investigation is still ongoing.

The church pastor said Thursday that they are thankful no one was hurt in the fire and that they will continue to rebuild from the damage.

Fire Damage
Fire Damage(KTTC)

The general contractor of the project said they will begin demo work next week. Half of the building will be a completely gutted. The hope is to have the construction done by Easter of next year.

Listos Preschool and Childcare, attached to the church, is complete displaced. In the meantime, they are working out of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Rochester.

Services in the sanctuary area of the church were able to start up again only four days after the fire. The piano and church pews were removed but a keyboard and chairs were added after cleaning for worship services to start again.

The church is about 120-years-old, with additions added throughout the years.

Information can be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-222-TIPS, or the Arson Hotline 1-800-723-2020. Tips can also be sent to Investigator Todd Schwanke at 507-328-2894 or tschwanke@rochestermn.gov.

Authorities say information leading to the person or persons responsible for the arson will be eligible for a reward.

Watch the full news conference below:

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