Police make second arrest in downtown Tyrone church fire

Tyrone Borough Police Chief Joseph Beachem announced Friday another arrest has been made in the fire, which heavily damaged the Christ United Methodist Church located at 1359 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Beachem said a 16-year-old male juvenile was taken into custody on Thursday evening and placed into a detention facility. Beachem said police located the teen at a residence in Altoona after receiving a tip he was staying there.
Police arrested a 17-year-old male juvenile on the same day flames erupted at the church. Smoke was reported by a borough police officer around 3 a.m. Sunday and fire fighters battled the blaze until about 4:30 a.m. Beachem said the teen arrested Sunday was also being held at the detention facility.
Authorities have known the identity of the other suspect since early in the week. On Friday, Beachem said police had spent the week trying to locate him before he was apprehended on Thursday.
Thanks to firefighters and other volunteers, Christ United Methodist Church held services in the church parking lot within hours of the fire.
Pastor Dennis Reedy met with church council members on Monday night to decide which direction to go after the blaze. As a result of the meeting, the church found a temporary home to hold services until it can return to its own building.
Services will be held at Epworth Manor’s chapel this Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Church officials decided to approach Epworth and received approval to hold services there until further notice. Sunday school has been canceled for this Sunday and there was no word on when classes would resume.
Reedy said the church had suffered damages that would make it a higher-end expense. Such insurance claims usually mean damages in excess of $500,000.
Reedy said repair and restoration plans include making a partition-style wall between the sanctuary and the educational unit at the building permanent. The move would seal the two structures off from one another.
Once that was done, the pastor said the educational unit would be repaired and the church could conduct its services and other activities there. The idea would allow the church to get back to its own property more quickly while decisions and actual completion of repair and restoration are made to the more heavily damaged sanctuary.
Reedy said he believed the church’s insurance coverage would allow the church to be repaired and restored. He had said the whole process could take four to six months to be completed.
Church offices have been temporarily moved to the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church located at 17 West 13th Street in Tyrone.