Fire reported at Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church

Associated Press/August 2, 2008

Topeka - The Topeka Fire Department is investigating a small fire outside of a church whose members protest at soldier's funerals.

A fence and garage at Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church became engulfed in flames early Saturday, according to the Topeka Capitol-Journal Web site. The fire did not spread to the church building.

Topeka Fire Marshal Greg Bailey said the cause of the fire has not been determined. However, a spokeswoman for the church, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said she believes it was deliberately set.

Members of the church frequently picket military funerals, arguing that the deaths of U.S. troops overseas are part of God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

Bailey said damage is estimated at $10,000.

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