Investigators with the San Antonio Fire Department and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms have determined that the fire that destroyed Childress Memorial Church of God in Christ was an accident.
“There’s no indication that this fire… is any result of any criminal act or any arson,” said Fire Chief Charles Hood.
In a Friday afternoon press conference, Hood said the blaze started in a mechanical room on the church’s second floor.
When fire crews arrived, they entered the church, but were forced to evacuate after part of the building collapsed.
Hood said the church showed no signs of forced entry, leading investigators to believe that the fire was not intentionally set.
Members of the church who attended the press conference were comforted by the results of the investigation.
“It’s a great relief,” said Tiffanie Wilson. “You don’t ever want the building to burn down for any reason, but it just gave you a sense of relief that someone did not intentionally hurt your home.”
The building stood at the corner of North Pine and Hays Street for more than 100 years before being destroyed in the early morning hours of Feb. 1.
More than 20 ATF investigators from several states came to San Antonio to investigate the two-alarm fire.
Church members feared arson because the fire department has been investigating seven intentionally set fires on the east side for the last two months.
Hood said the damage estimate was upwards of $3 million.
The church has been given a temporary place to worship at Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church, 4123 E. Houston.
“We are conquerors,” said Wilson. “The Childress congregation is still standing.”