ATF investigating Bethlehem church fire

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (WPVI) -- ATF agents, police and fire officials are working to determine the source of a two-alarm church fire in Bethlehem.

The fire broke out a bit past midnight Tuesday at the Iglesia Pentecostal de Bethlehem church on Pembroke Road.

Firefighters arrived to find thick, black smoke billowing from the scene. Still, crews were able to gain the upper-hand within 30 minutes.

The damage, though, was done. Most of the building endured at least some damage, but the sanctuary was destroyed.

Bethlehem police say the ATF responds whenever there is a fire at a place of worship, and there is still no word how the blaze started.

The Iglesia Pentecostal de Bethlehem was established approximately 50 years ago, but moved to the current location on Pembroke Road in 2000.

Church officials say they have approximately 150 members.

They also say that they will rebuild.

Two items that survived the flames are the portrait of church founder, Rev. Dario Cruz who died about 20 years ago, and the Cruz family Bible.

Pastor Cruz's daughter, Nitza Colon, says this is a devastating setback but it is not the end of her father's legacy.

"We had people that taught us the right way. So, we are going to stand on that and I give God the glory for those people that taught us all these good things," Colon said.

Colon's niece, Tasha Collazo, says with the recent attacks on Christian churches around the world, she is truly hoping this was just some kind of accident.

"At this point we really don't know what to think about the situation. We are just kind of waiting on the police and fire departments to do their investigations to know more," said Collazo.

Anyone with any added information about this case is asked to call police.
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