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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Miami/Metro Dade Fla--Church Fire

    MIAMI HERALD

    Fire damages Overtown church

    By TERE FIGUERAS AND CHARLES RABIN
    tfigueras@herald.com

    A fire in Overtown's St. Francis Xavier Church on Friday night means parishioners won't be able to celebrate Christmas Mass in the oldest historically black Catholic church in Miami-Dade County.

    Worshipers will gather instead in the school's cafeteria for services.

    The fire, which began just after 7 p.m. in the sacristy -- where the vestments and sacramental wine are stored -- caused extensive damage to the interior of the church, 1682 NW Fourth Ave.

    Eleven trucks and 45 fire fighters rushed to the scene and quickly doused the fire. There were no injuries, but it is too early to estimate damage, said Miami Fire Department spokesman Ignatius Carroll.

    The pastor of St. Francis Xavier, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in August, said the fire will hinder the yuletide celebrations next week.

    ''It's a real shame,'' said Father George Knab, who rushed to the smoke-filled church just as firefighters were putting out the flames. ``This is part of the history of Overtown.''

    Smoke also damaged the sanctuary, where the altar stands, as well as the knave where the faithful sit in pews during services.

    The fire, which is under investigation, is a setback for a parish that has strived to keep a sense of community in Overtown and has struggled to keep its school afloat in recent years, Knab said.

    ''But this is a resilient parish,'' he said.

    The church's school is undergoing an ambitious expansion plan that will allow the once-struggling inner city academy to double its enrollment.

    A few years ago, the school almost closed because it was unable to attract students and funds. But donations from Herald readers brought in more than $250,000.

    In an odd twist, the schoolchildren were paid a visit from a Miami firefighter earlier Friday.

    A fire truck escorted Santa Claus to St. Francis to bid a Christmas farewell on the last day of class before the holiday break.

    A few hours later, the same firefighter was among the crew who helped put out the flames.

    ''He came here for something happy and came back to fight a fire,'' Knab said. ``It's a real shame.''
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
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    Default 12-year-old charged in church burning

    Boy, 12, accused in church burning

    Miami, FL - Police arrested a 12-year-old boy and charged him with setting fire to his neighborhood church, the oldest historically black Catholic church in Miami-Dade County.

    The boy was charged Friday with first-degree arson and burglary for the fire at St. Francis Xavier Church in Miami's Overtown area, said Miami Police Lt. Bill Schwartz. The child was being held Saturday at a juvenile detention center.

    No one was inside the 75-year-old church at the time of the fire and no one was injured, Schwartz said. The fire started in the sacristy, the room where sacred vessels and vestments are kept, and caused extensive damage to the church's interior and smoke damage to the sanctuary.

    Witnesses told police they saw the boy jumping over the church's fence as smoke billowed from the building. Officers later talked to him at the scene and arrested him.

    Authorities haven't determined how the fire was started. Parishioners will attend Christmas services in St. Francis Xavier school's cafeteria.

  3. #3
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Suspect Released

    Boy charged with setting fire to Miami church is released

    The Associated Press

    MIAMI - The 12-year-old boy arrested and charged with setting fire to the oldest historically black Catholic church in Miami-Dade County has been released from a juvenile detention center, officials said.

    William Lee Worthy was released to his mother's custody on Monday, but must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet around his ankle while attending school. He will return to court for another hearing Jan. 16, officials said.

    Worthy was charged Dec. 20 with first-degree arson and burglary for allegedly causing the fire at St. Francis Xavier Church in Miami's Overtown area. He had been expelled from the church's school in 2001, officials said.

    The fire caused $600,000 in damages and forced parishioners to attend Christmas services in St. Francis Xavier's school cafeteria.

    Worthy's attorney, Richard Marx, said his client is innocent.

    Information from: The Miami Herald
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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