Fire officials say fire that destroyed abandoned church is suspicious

Augusta fire officials are trying to determine what caused the blaze that destroyed an abandoned church at the interchange of Marks Church Road on Thursday.

It was the third fire in two days at the building. Augus­ta Fire Department investigators have not said it was arson, but the building had no electricity. Fire Chief Chris James said the building had been abandoned for years.

“It does raise a little suspicion,” James said.

Firefighters responded to the first fire Wednesday afternoon and were able to control the flames quickly, said Investigator Neal Brown. A second fire was reported around 1 a.m. Thursday, which also was contained.

James said the fire reported Thursday afternoon was more severe. Flames engulfed the entire building, and a smaller building behind the church was also burned.

James said it is curious that a church with no utilities could have three natural fires in two days, but investigators have not been able to call it arson yet.

Brown and investigators must study the burn patterns to be able to determine a cause.

In the meantime, the department is trying to track down the church’s story.

Gail Griner, who watched the flames from her Augusta Asso­ciation of Baptist Chur­ches office nearby, said the church used to belong to Curtis Baptist Church and was used as the First Baptist Korean Mission for some time. About five or six years ago, the mission moved to Meadowbrook Drive, and the church was converted into a day care for a few months.

The church was then sold, but Griner said its history since is unclear.

Brown said the department has to track down the owner.

Brown said. “These are things you want to know ... I never consider any of (the fires) routine.”

REPORT A TIP

If you have any tips about the fire at 1128 Marks Church Road, call Investigator Neal Brown at (706) 821-2910.

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Mon, 12/05/2016 - 22:47

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