Long Island church fire ruled arson

Outreach center destroyed
January 9, 2008 12:43:27 PM PST
Investigators say a fire at a church on Long Island is a case of arson.The fire, on December 30, damaged Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal's rectory, food pantry and a community outreach center that served about 1,000 homeless and low-income residents a month.

The fire was in Wyandanch.

Long Island reporter Emily Smith has more.

Detectives were able to repair the church's surveillance tape that was severely damaged in the fire. To their surprise, on tape they found a man on the porch of the outreach center lighting up a bundle of clothes.

Police are withholding the video, but still need help finding the suspect..

The Catholic church's outreach center looks is a wreck after burning to the ground on New Years Eve. It still smells like smoke, and the remnants of donated clothes and food are everywhere.

They were all things meant to go to people in the community.

"These people don't have a whole lot, and you go out and wipe out their only salvation," area resident John Hobin said.

Now, their spirits have been all but wiped out too after finding out officials have launched an arson investigation. They took back early indicators it was electrical.

"I was stunned," pastor William Brisotti said. "It's just so sad to find out that information."

The fire started in the back of the outreach center, but spread quickly to the rectory and then to the church.

The actual church, thanks to fire crews, sustained mostly smoke and water damage.

While the work to rebuild has begun, so does a quest for answers.

"Theres nothing to be gained for doing this," Brisotti said. "Are they unhappy with us? No one's expressed that...it puts a black mark on humanity itself. We stoop so low to do something like this."

Anyone with information on the arsonist is asked to call Cuffolk County police at 1-800-220-TIPS.