Man Ablaze Runs Into Church, Pastor Dies in Fire

Not clear how John Sterner became engulfed in flames

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 1, 2013 6:42 AM CST

(Newser) – An awful story out of Ocean City, Maryland, last week, where a man who was engulfed in flames ran into a church, set it on fire, and ended up dead along with the church's pastor. Investigators think John Sterner, 56, was for some reason covered in a flammable substance, but they don't know how he ended up on fire Tuesday, the AP reports. He ran into the church's food bank, where volunteers were working, the Baltimore Sun reports. After Sterner ran in, the fire engulfed the draperies and quickly spread, WJLA reports.

Sterner "ran in screaming for help," says another pastor. "He hugged one of the volunteers there, an adult female whose clothes were also ignited." She ended up critically injured. The pastor, Rev. David Dingwall, was leaving when a parishioner told him what was going on; he apparently tried to get his computer out of the burning church and ended up overwhelmed by smoke and heat. He was found unconscious by firefighters and died later in a hospital. Sterner has a lengthy criminal record, and may have been homeless.

  (Shutterstock)
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