Vandals set fire to local church, church's van

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Multiple fires were started at College Hill Seventh Day Adventist on Sunday night.

One was set at a side entrance to the church. Marshall Henley, a church elder, says it appears someone set fire to bales of hay right outside the doors. The church van was also set on fire.

Henley says the church got the van about six months ago and it was vital to a lot of the church's community outreach projects. Some of those will now be placed on hold. Henley says he believes the van is a total loss.

While church members say they were horrified to hear about the fire, it only proves to them that they are needed in the community.

"This is significant in the sense that we should be doing the work that we are called to do even though it might be a little sad. We can get through the sadness and get on with the business of being involved in the community and helping people which is our responsibility and our job," says Henley.

The church says they are already in the process of looking for more lights to add around the building as well as some surveillance cameras.

College Hills Seventh Day Adventist is a predominantly African American church, but Knoxville police say they are not investigating this incident as a hate crime.