published Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Fire destroys southeast Georgia church; man charged

HAZLEHURST, Ga. — Authorities say they have arrested and charged a 46-year-old man with setting a fire that destroyed a church in southeastern Georgia.

Glenn Allen, a spokesman for Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, said late Saturday that authorities arrested Larry Kurtz and charged him with two counts of burglary and one count of arson. He was being held in the Jeff Davis County jail.

Allen said state and county sheriff’s investigators believe the suspect set the fire Saturday at St. Matthews AME church in Hazlehurst to cover up a burglary at a food bank in a separate building. The property had surveillance cameras. Allen called the fire was a “total loss.”

Investigator James Atkins with the state fire marshal’s office said Kurtz had recently been released from prison, but he didn’t know what he had been convicted for.

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