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A Seventh Church Is Set On Fire In St. Louis

The doors of a seventh church were set on fire in St. Louis early Thursday morning.

St. Louis Public Radio reports that "St. Louis Fire Department was able to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher," but the double wooden doors at the Shrine of St. Joseph's rectory were damaged.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that this latest fire breaks the mold of the previous six, because it targeted a predominately white church.

The paper adds:

"The Rev. Dale Wunderlich, who serves as priest at the church, said the church has some congregants who are black and a number of Filipino heritage, but most people who attend Mass there each week are white.

"'It's kind of a mystery — why would anybody want to vandalize a place like the Shrine of St. Joseph?' Wunderlich said. 'I feel a sort of kinship with the other pastors' whose churches were damaged by fire.

"Wunderlich does not live at the rectory. No one was inside the rectory when the fire was set. Wunderlich said smoke from the fire set off the fire alarm and that automatically called the fire department."

St. Louis City Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson told KMOX-TV that the fire at the Shrine of St. Joseph was "very similar-type fire, as compared to the other six church fires."

As we've reported, the string of fires is being investigated by local and federal authorities. The ACLU of Missouri has suggested that the arson attacks may be racially motivated and called the fires "domestic terrorism."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.