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Brewster man charged in church arson

A 29-year-old Cape Cod man is facing an arson charge for setting the fire that destroyed a church in Brewster Friday, authorities said.

Adam Finnegan, of Brewster, allegedly set fire to the Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church at 3 a.m. Friday, according to State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, whose office is leading the investigation. The 25-year-old church building on Main Street was consumed by the fast-spreading, three-alarm blaze that broke out just before 3 a.m. Friday.

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The fire was the third to hit Cape Cod this week, including one still under investigation that destroyed a garden center garage in Falmouth on Wednesday afternoon, and another, also deemed arson, that ripped through an abandoned Harwich motel Sunday. The church fire is not, however, connected to a spate of arsons that have hit communities south of Boston over the past couple of months, Coan said in a statement.

“Whenever there is a fire in a house of worship, it has a tremendous impact on the fabric of a community,” Coan said in a statement. He also praised officials for quickly arresting Finnegan.

Brewster Deputy Fire Chief William Harrison said that when firefighters arrived at the church minutes after the call early this morning, flames were already shooting through the roof.

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Firefighters from seven surrounding communities responded. Harrison said their approach to battling the blaze was “mostly surround and drown,” referring to dousing it from outside because it was too dangerous to send anyone inside. The building was leveled.

Blackened remnants from the fire could be seen scattered over lawns up to 100 yards away from the church building. Fighting the flames took a tremendous amount of water, sending a stream of mud, dirt, and jagged building debris down the hill where the church sits and onto Route 6A, which was closed until 7:30 a.m., when state highway workers opened up the westbound lane, said Dean Mossey, a highway foreman at the scene. The eastbound lane opened at 2 p.m.

Globe correspondent Melissa Werthmann contributed to this report. Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at Zachary.Sampson@globe.com.
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