Officials Conducting Rigid Investigation Of 3rd Church Fire

Estimate $15,000 To Be Damage Caused By Blaze;
Organ And Entire Chancel Are Destroyed

Hampton Union, Thursday, November 28, 1940

HAMPTON -- With church authorities and townspeople cooperating to the fullest, local and state police officials are conducting a rigid investigation of the fire which caused $15,000 damage to the Congregational Church, Sunday evening,

Officials under Chief of Police Jerome Harkness are questioning numerous persons and are running down every clue and rumor in an effort to determine the origin of the fire. At the time of going to press, Chief Harkness said that nothing definite had been uncovered but that "if it is determined that the origin of the fire was suspicious, no stone will be left unturned to solve the crime."

Chief Harkness is being aided in the investigation by Sgt. Herbert Gray of the New Hampshire State Police, Harold Durfee, photographic and finger print expert for New Hampshire, and George Sheriff, representative of the insurance underwriters. Cleveland Percy, of the criminal investigation department of the State Police, was expected to arrive today to take part in the investigation.

Worst of Three

Sunday's fire was the worst of three which have damaged the historic edifice, built in 1844. The first fire on Nov. 28, 1937, caused only slight damage while the second on Sept. 21, 1939, damaged the front part of the structure to the extent of $10,000.

The blaze Sunday was discoverd at 7:30 P.M. by John A. Janvrin, who notified the fire department. Thick smoke hampered the firemen who fought the fire for nearly two hours before bringing it under control. It was a splendid piece of firefighting and church officials praised the work of the fire department in saving the building.

The actual fire was in the partitions which firefighters found it necessary to rip open. The organ was almost completedly ruined while the pulpit and choir loft were badly damaged. Walls and pews were crusted and blistered by the heat of the blaze which was not brought under control until 10:30 P.M.

The fire broke out just a half-hour after the members of the Young People's Society had completed their Sunday evening meeting and the pastor, Rev. Floyd G. Kinsley, told police that everything was in order when he left the building at 7 o'clock.