The fire -- which was too advanced for firefighters to extinguish and save the structure by the time they arrived -- appeared to have originated from at least three starting points, says a firefighter on scene Monday.
"The chief knew just from looking at that, whoever started the fire started it in multiple places," says the firefighter. "I'm pretty confident that's how they could determine it was arson right away."[jump]
Firefighters got the call around 2 a.m. that a structure near the corner of 32nd Avenue South and 42nd Street East had caught fire.
The 100-year-old building has been the location of several churches and a furniture store over the years, but has since been vacated.
Responders first attempted to enter the building to fight the blaze, but thick, black smoke pouring out from another room indicated that the heaviest flames were coming from deeper into the building.
The windows had been boarded up, making the building a "fire trap" too dangerous to fight from the inside.
"If we were in there, we'd have a hell of a time trying to get out if the shit hit the fan," says the firefighter.
Realizing the building was beyond saving, firefighters went on the defensive and kept the flames from spreading beyond the church.
Firefighters were on scene until 1 p.m. No firefighters or civilians were injured, says Asst. Chief Cherie Penn in a statement. The building has already been demolished.