A heartbreaking scene unfolded last week in Portland, Oregon, after a historic church was burned so severely it is now being torn down.
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The inferno reportedly broke out last Tuesday around 5:30 p.m. at the former Portland Korean Church, a 118-year-old building with historic roots.
The house of worship had been vacant since 2015 and had been sold to a dentist.
The building had been in disrepair after a previous 2020 fire — a cause for which was reportedly undetermined — broke out, according to The Oregonian.
A company began demolishing the building Friday, just two days after the latest fire left it uninhabitable.
The massive fire, which also damaged a nearby home, required “extensive resources including 12 fire engines, six ladder trucks, four battalion chiefs, and 75 Portland Fire and Rescue Personnel,” according to a statement from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
Before its sale, the building was Oregon’s oldest Koren congregation. The church’s roots date back to 1905, when the structure was built to house the First Evangelical Church.
Police reportedly arrested a suspect in the arson and burglary, detaining 27-year-old Cameron David Storer, a biological male who purportedly goes by the name Nicolette Fait, The Oregonian reported.
While some outlets have called Storer transgender, Portland officials said they cannot confirm this detail.
“I cannot confirm the person identifies as transgender,” Portland Fire’s Public Information Officer Rick Graves told Fox News. “The suspect was booked and arrested under their given name, which is traditionally a name given to individuals born male at birth.”
During questioning, Storer reportedly indicated he wanted to be called a name aligning with “someone who is female at birth,” with Graves noting “there was no visual indication of any femininity of the suspect.”
Storer allegedly walked into the Multnomah County Detention Center Jan. 4 and admitted to the fire, telling officials he used a lighter, according to Blaze Media.
“Storer stated that they heard voices in their head saying they would ‘mutilate’ Storer if they did not burn the church down and that they had planned it up to one day in advance,” the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
The statement continued, “Storer also reported taking approximately 10 oxycodone daily due to a previous injury and that they had a history of schizophrenia. Throughout the interview, Storer asked to be referred to as ‘Nicolette.'”
A construction rig toppled the charred wooden steeple of the historic former Portland Korean Church shortly after noon on Friday – the first step in demolishing the building after it was ravaged by a fire Tuesday night.— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) January 7, 2023
Video by @Vickieaconnorhttps://t.co/UVVhAAuG9x pic.twitter.com/yV7HxCNuvl
Storer was reportedly charged with two counts of arson in the first degree, two counts of burglary in the second degree, and one count of arson in the second degree.
Video captured Friday showed the removal of the church’s steeple, the first step in its demolition.
Continue to pray for Portland and all those impacted by the tragic fire.
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