Controversial pastor Arthur Allen dies after house fire

Controversial pastor Arthur Allen dies after house fire

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Firefighters worked to put out a blaze at an apartment on Lookout Avenue on Monday. (Photo by Charles Holmes/myfoxatlanta) Firefighters worked to put out a blaze at an apartment on Lookout Avenue on Monday. (Photo by Charles Holmes/myfoxatlanta)
The Rev. Arthur Allen of House of Prayer (WAGA file footage from 2011). The Rev. Arthur Allen of House of Prayer (WAGA file footage from 2011).
ATLANTA -

The Rev. Arthur Allen Jr., the controversial pastor of the House of Prayer, has died after a house fire, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office.

Firefighters said there were between 10 and 15 people in the house, located on Lookout Avenue, when fire broke out on Monday. Firefighters said that Allen told those in the house to get out quickly as he remained behind to get dressed.

Allen, 81, was unconscious when firefighters found him in the house, according to officials. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead of suspected smoke inhalation.

A firefighter suffered first-degree burns while battling the blaze, according to the Atlanta Fire Department.

A dryer is the suspected cause of the blaze, according to fire officials.

Allen made national headlines after being accused of child abuse more than a decade ago.

Allen's troubles began in 2001 when two boys showed their teachers bruises they got after a beating. The state immediately took 49 children of the House of Prayer into custody.

Then another young member of the church came forward and threatened to sue Allen. That member said that he was beaten every time he went to church from the time he was 9 years old.

Allen responded, "He was given corporal punishment because he had sex with a young woman in our church, and we don't want a lot of babies."

Allen was later charged and convicted of child cruelty. He spent 90 days in jail.

After violating probation, Allen went on the run for five months. He was finally arrested and sentenced to two years in jail. When he was released, he said he still supported the use of corporal punishment to discipline children.

"If I see them doing wrong, and it calls for me to give them a spanking, I'm going to do it," Allen told his congregation.

In 2007, Allen was arrested on a kidnapping charge. He was accused of hiding a child whose father left the church. He served two weeks in jail.

Some neighbors said that Allen helped a lot of people in the community and that he will be missed.

Neighbor Rick Johnson says in recent years, Pastor Allen bought several homes in this community where church members stayed.

Johnson said, "Anybody who would buy into a rundown community and build it up, that's helping."

Other neighbors like Kenard Harris, who is raising his step son Jayden. didn't agree with Reverend Allen's approach.

Harris told FOX 5's George Franco, "It's just too tough on a kid like that age and all I feel it wasn't really right."

Church members at the scene Monday evening said the reverend's teachings will continue.

One church member said, "We're still holding to the teachings but other than that I don't really have much comment to say at this time."

Funeral plans for Reverend Allen were still pending Monday night.

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