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Black Baptist Church Building Heavily Damaged by Fire

August 5, 1996

YAZOO CITY, Miss. (AP) _ Investigators believe children started a fire that heavily damaged the temporary home of a small black Baptist church, the pastor said.

``We don’t think this was racial. They are thinking school-age children,″ the Rev. Charles Thomas said today of the early Sunday fire in the mobile home that housed a portion of the Beacon Baptist Church.

The church’s sanctuary is located in an adjoining mobile home that had been vandalized late last week.

The Yazoo City fire came as federal and state arson investigators continued to search for suspects in two arson fires at small black churches near Kossuth in northeast Mississippi on June 17.

In Dillon, S.C., two white teen-agers were arrested and charged with third-degree arson in the burning of the predominantly black Springhill AME Church last week.

Dennis Martin Moody Jr., 17, of Latta and Neil Talbot, 17, of Dillon were charged Sunday with burning the wood-frame church to the ground Thursday morning. Authorities said they had not determined a motive.

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