Church fire in Pascagoula deemed accidental

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The investigation continues into what sparked a fire at the Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 90 in Pascagoula Thursday night. Fire crews stayed on the scene for hours putting out hot spots and another small fire that started in the church.

"We came in and started the investigation process and determined the origin of where the fire actually started," said Battalion Chief Michael May.

The doors were open on the west side of the church to a storage room. Inside, amongst other burned objects, you could make out a lawn mower and frayed ladder. Battalion Chief May said that room is where the fire began.

"It's going to be deemed that it's a total loss," May said.

Items lay in a debris pile outside of the room where the fire started, but nothing will be salvaged. While on scene throughout the day, fire officials determined the fire was accidental. But an official cause remains unknown.

"There's some test to be done to finalize what actually happened," said May.

In the back of the church, bricks lay piled up on top of one another from the large hole that was blown out by the blaze. You could see the melted ceiling buckled from the flames. May said hazards like those lay throughout the church and it is still not safe for people to go inside.

"We went back through the building with thermal imaging, putting out the remaining hot spots and a couple of re-kindles. And we had a small fire up in the steeple that we had to gain access to and extinguish," said May.

The fire investigation should be complete in the next few weeks.

As for the church congregation, services will still be held. According to the Greater Antioch Baptist Church's website, Sunday worship services will be held at the Grand Magnolia Ballroom and Suites in Pascagoula.

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