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Published November 04, 2013, 01:54 PM

$5,000 reward offered in Valley City church fire

VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) — A reward of up to $5,000 has been offered for information that leads to the arrest of whoever set fire to a Valley City church.

VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) — A reward of up to $5,000 has been offered for information that leads to the arrest of whoever set fire to a Valley City church.

The value of loss from the Oct. 21 fire at Faith Lutheran Church is about $2.2 million because of the substantial structural damage, said Robert Schmidt, special agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in St. Paul, Minn.

"No one has claimed responsibility for it," he said.

The fire chief said the blaze was set in a number of different areas in the church. Police are looking into the possibility that the fire might be connected to a string of church burglaries reported around the same time.

Last week, police identified two suspects in one of the break-ins and issued arrest warrants for Andrew Miklas, 25, of Valley City, and Nicole Lindermann, 18, of Kathryn, in connection with a late September burglary at Faith Lutheran Church. Police are still investigating whether the burglary is connected to the Oct. 21 fire.

"This arson was a deliberate attack on a house of worship destroying a local piece of history and testing one's understanding of how someone could commit such a cowardly crime," said Scott Sweetow, field division special agent in charge of ATF.

ATF said anyone with information should contact its office in Bismarck, the Valley City Police Department or North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The 900 members of Faith Lutheran are now worshipping in a former U.S. Department of Agriculture building in Valley City.

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