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Source : 26/03/2002 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

A Jesus Army centre in Northampton was sealed off as police investigated an arson attack.

Police and fire officials have launched an inquiry after fire swept through bedrooms at the group's New Life centre in Argyle Street, St James.

The building, which is two houses knocked together, is home to a number of Jesus Army members who were out at the time of Sunday night's fire.

The rear door had been forced and blazes were started in two ground floor and two first floor rooms.

John Campbell, a Jesus Army elder, said: 'Someone broke in and started four separate fires on the ground and first floor.'

'Fortunately the house was empty at the time. The fire brigade have let people in to retrieve some of their possessions but the house is uninhabitable.'

'There is some suggestion that fire may have damaged some of the wooden beams. We are very concerned about an attack like this, which could have had very serious consequences.'

He said the group was 'highly grateful' to the fire brigade and the member if the public who alerted them.

The six people made homeless were currently staying with friends, he added.

Firefighters from Northampton, Wellingborough and Earls Barton were called to the fire at 7.30pm on Sunday.

Extensive damage was caused to ground floor and first floor rooms in the fire although the cost of the blaze is not yet known.

Mr Campbell said the Jesus Army was relieved no-one was hurt and would help police in any way possible to catch the arsonist.

He said: 'I am concerned that someone would do this, it's very dangerous.'

Sarah Thomson, a police spokeswoman, said 'Officers would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area prior to the fire being discovered.'

'Anyone with information can contact police on Northampton 700700.'