ARIZONA NEWS

Investigators haven’t found evidence of arson in Phoenix church fire

May 9, 2019, 4:30 PM | Updated: May 10, 2019, 6:55 am
(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)...
(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)
(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)

PHOENIX — The investigation isn’t over, but it appears the fire that destroyed St. Joseph Catholic Church in Phoenix last week was accidental, authorities said Thursday.

“Currently, investigators have not discovered any credible evidence that would suggest arson,” the Phoenix Fire Department said in an email.

“Conversely, fire investigators have found compelling indicators that the origin of the fire may be due to accidental causes.”

The email said the investigation could take several days or weeks to be completed. No other new information was released.

Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were involved in the investigation because it involved a house of worship.

The church near 40th Street and Shea Boulevard was destroyed May 1. Church officials had been preparing for a 50th anniversary celebration.

Flames were shooting through the attic of the church when firefighters arrived around midnight. The fire sparked in the area of the sanctuary, police said.

Shortly after, the building was fully engulfed in flames.

About 60 firefighters worked to keep the blaze from spreading to other buildings, including classrooms, on the property.

Units from Scottsdale also helped fight the fire, which took hours to extinguish.

Nobody was injured.

The church launched an online campaign in an effort to raise funds for rebuilding.

“In times such as this, we know our faith will carry us through this difficult time,” the church said in a note.

“Please pray for our parish community and our pastor, Father Reggie.”

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Investigators haven’t found evidence of arson in Phoenix church fire