PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A devastating fire that gutted a North Philadelphia church leaves a congregation without a place to worship on Sunday, and questions continue about what may have sparked the blaze.
The raging fire began Thursday afternoon and kept firefighters busy with hot spots throughout the night at the Original Apostolic Faith Church of the Lord Jesus Christ on the 1500 block of North Broad Street.
The Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office and the ATF are on the scene trying to piece together what started the three-alarm fire.
Philadelphia Fire Department investigators believe the fire started shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Thursday and quickly spread throughout the entire building.
More than 120 firefighters battled the flames and heavy smoke for more than four hours, with hot spots burning well into the next morning.
Officials are looking at surveillance video in the area in hopes of figuring out how this started.
Tom Citro, who owns the off-campus Temple Nest Apartments behind the church, says things are back to normal for the more than 100 students evacuated from his rentals.
“We have the ATF and Temple’s police reviewing our surveillance video up and down Carlisle Street,” said Citro.
The pastor’s son, Fred Tookes, says the small congregation met for service on Tuesday, locked the door and expected to return for Easter Sunday. Now, they’re left with almost nothing and Tookes says he just wants answers.
“I talked with the ATF group and what we’re requesting is just a full investigation with what happened. Of course, this is not normal, we were here Tuesday night and everything was fine,” said Tookes. “We want all the cameras checked in the area to see if they can find anything. We just want to know what happened, if at all.”
The building is currently too unstable to get inside. A spokesperson for the ATF says agents were inside earlier when a partial roof collapse forced investigators to evacuate.
No one was hurt.