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Jan 13, 2016 12:58 PM

UPDATE: Victim identified in Grafton church fire as the pastor

NH1.com

GRAFTON - The man who died in a fire that seriously damaged the Peaceful Assembly Church on Tuesday has been identified as church pastor John Connell, 57, of Grafton.

Connell lived in an apartment on the church property. The cause of death was found to be smoke inhalation.

Family and community members are grieving the loss of the pastor.

"He remained focused on his mission to foster PEACE as prescribed by God. May he now rest in PEACE," his daughter Maria Connell wrote on a community Facebook page.

"He touched many souls, mine was one of them," wrote Denise Smith Vogt.

"He was such a good heart and good friend," wrote Jack Shimek.

Friends also set up a Facebook page in memory of Connell.

The fire was reported around 11 a.m. on Tuesday and did heavy damage to the historic building on Route 4 in the center of town. The building dated back to 1798.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the N.H. State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Grafton Police Department, and the Grafton Fire Department.

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