A 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of starting a fire in a Visalia church early Thursday and two other recent church burglaries, Visalia police reported.
About 6 a.m. Thursday, firefighters reported to a fire at Heart of the Valley Church in the 2800 block of Walnut Avenue.
A driver passing the church saw smoke coming from an air conditioning unit called 911, Visalia Fire Department reports said. When firefighters arrived they found a fire in the kitchen area. Firefighters contained the fire within 20 minutes. Damage was limited to $40,000.
During the investigation, evidence showed the fire was linked to a burglary. Video surveillance captured images of a suspect. Officers later found a man matching the video near Walnut and Woodland avenues in Visalia.
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Investigators say Christopher Peterson was identified by witnesses and arrested.
Peterson is linked to two previous church burglaries, one at Woodland Drive Baptist Church in May, and Heart of the Valley Church previously in April. He was booked into Tulare County Jail on suspicion of three counts of burglary, arson, and possession of an incendiary device.