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Man Arrested in Fire at Panhandle Church


FOUNTAIN - A man authorities believe to be a transient was arrested today for allegedly setting a fire at a church in Fountain, investigators with the Department of Insurance, Division of State Fire Marshal said.

When local authorities arrived in response to the fire at Fellowship Alliance Church, located at 22045 Highway 231 in Fountain, they found Phoun Van Nguyen, 36, curled up asleep at the front of the church next to the fire he later admitted to setting, investigators said.

Nguyen allegedly admitted dragging a large oak log from nearby woods, laying it at the front door, pouring a five-gallon bucket of roofing tar with mineral spirits on the log and setting it on fire. Nguyen is believed to have found the bucket of roofing tar in a nearby storage shed. Investigators said damage to the church was minimal, but included some smoke damage to the interior.

In addition to the arson charge, Nguyen was arrested on an outstanding warrant for resisting arrest. He was booked into the Bay County Jail.

Investigators from the Division of Fire and Arson Investigations assisted the Green Hill/Fountain Volunteer Fire Department.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON). Information may also be mailed to The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, 3659 Maguire Blvd., Suite 151, Orlando, Florida, 32803.