Cause determined in church fire

November 13, 2008 4:29:25 PM PST
Investigators have found the cause of the fire that damaged the First Baptist Church of Crestmont late Tuesday night in Willow Grove.Insurance investigators examined the extensive damage to the sanctuary of the church, especially at the point of origin. The faulty heating system above the drop ceiling in the 20 year old building is blamed for causing the fast spreading fire, which burned through the paper-backed insulation.

The fast-reacting fire companies kept the entire roof from collapsing. At least two organs were destroyed along with the church's sound system.

The church has 260 active members.

A lifetime member and the church's young pastor, here only 9 months, surveyed the damage Thursday and concluded it could have been worse.

"We had bible study that evening, we didn't leave here until almost nine-o-clock. It could've been a lot worse, the fire could have started earlier, people could have been hurt. But, we were blessed not to have any people in the building..." said the Rev. Jerome Coleman.

"To see the wreckage, it's hard to fathom, but it's just temporary. The people are the church, and the building will be reconstructed, so I just thank God that it's not worse than what it is," said member Linda Strong.

Already, the First Baptist congregation has found a temporary home nearby. The building is fully insured, so repairs and restoration are not likely to pose an overwhelming burden on this 98 year old institution.

The church has an extensive outreach program, especially for children.

"We believe the work we've started doing in this community is what's needed, and I don't believe we're going anywhere," said The Rev. Coleman. "If anything, this will make us stronger."

The Faith Bible Fellowship has donated space in a church building in the 1200 block of Easton Road for worship services starting Sunday, plus bible study and choir rehearsals during the week.

Other suburban churches are also responding to the crisis at First Baptist of Crestmont.

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