EMMETT -- People in Emmett were shocked to wake up Saturday morning, and find two of their churches burned.
At about 4:30 a.m., the call came in to Emmett dispatch that the Community Bible Church was on fire. But firefighters soon learned that the First Baptist Church, just a few blocks away, was also on fire.
Colin Gardner attends Community Bible Church. "This is a small town, nothing like this ever happens." He arrived Saturday morning to find crews battling a fire there. "It's just bad that somebody would even want to do this."
Lance Zagaris is the Pastor at First Baptist Church. He was woken up by the pastor from Community Bible, Jonathan Phillips. "He asked me if I knew if my church was on fire," said Zagaris. "So, I got dressed and came on down, and the firemen were already here."
"We were able to make interior attacks on the first fire," said Emmett Fire Chief Shannon Crays. "We had to fight the second fire from the exterior, until we got additional resources here."
Those resources came from Gem County, Eagle, and Meridian. They were able to get the fires under control, without anyone getting hurt. But, after the sun rose, the full scope of the damage was visible to onlookers, like Mayor Bill Butticci. "We're very tight-knit in our community. We're all family here. So, for this to happen, it's very disturbing. For the community to wake up and face this... such an awful crime committed against the community, it's just a hard thing to think about right now."
Emmett Police, Gem County Deputies, the State Fire Marshall's Office, FBI, ATF, and Ada County Crime Lab are all now investigating the cause of the fires, but can say already that they are "suspicious."
Meanwhile, the community of Emmett is rallying around the congregations, offering help and support, which affirms Pastor Zagaris' faith that some good will come of this. "I believe that God is a God who created us. He's a God who remakes us. And, if he can do that with us individually, I believe that he can do that with our facility... He can help bring beauty out of this.
Services will go on for both churches Sunday, but in different places. The First Baptist congregation will meet at Potter Funeral Chapel at 10:30am. The Community Bible congregation will meet at Emmett Middle School at 11:15am.