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Associated Press , Published October 22 2013

Authorities investigate Valley City church fire

VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Authorities are investigating whether a fire that devastated a Valley City church might be connected to a recent string of church burglaries.

"It's too early to tell," Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson told The Jamestown Sun. "It's certainly an interesting coincidence."

Police investigated burglaries at four churches in late September, including two break-ins at Faith Lutheran Church. That church caught fire shortly after 3:30 a.m. Monday, and officials estimate damage at more than $1 million. The state fire marshal's office is helping determine the cause.

No one was hurt, but members of the congregation say they are devastated.

"It's my family," church organist Cyndi Hill told WDAY-TV. "This has come to be home to me and a lot of other people."

Church Council President Tory Hart told the Sun that a building committee has been formed to determine the church's future. A plan for regular worship services and office locations will be determined later this week.

"I don't think the physical church is the church. It's the people and the faith, and that part I believe will be the strongest part of our church," Hart told WDAY.

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