The San Antonio Fire Department is getting assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in investigating Friday's fire at the Childress Memorial Church of God in Christ on the city's Eastside.
"San Antonio arson investigators are working in conjunction with the ATF National Response Team. They are coming in and assisting us," said SAFD Chief Charles Hood. "Throughout this investigation, we're looking at probably a timeline of a week or so for this excavation going on."
Chief Hood said the fire department first has to clear any remaining hazardous material from the structure before the investigation can start.
"If you look around the country historically fire fighters are killed quite often fighting church fires. Church fires tend to make you lose your risk management policy due to the dynamics of the building: you have a lot of wood, you have a lot of lacquer, a lot of pews that are lacquered," said Chief Hood.
Chief Hood says several historical artifacts are currently trying to be recovered from the building, which was built in 1908, including several books that belong to current pastor, Bishop Samuel Iglehart.
As of now, the SAFD is not linking this fire to six other neighborhood arson fires that have been started just blocks away from the church in the past few weeks.
"We have had some fires in this neighborhood. We're not tying any of those to this particular fire, but it's something that we have to do due diligence in the investigation," said Chief Hood. "With the size and age of this structure, and the damage, it's going to take us a while."
By: Marissa A. Wagner
Monday, February 4,2013