Dept. of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms investigating church fire - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Dept. of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms investigating church fire

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is analyzing the remains left of Iglesia De Dios Neuvo Pacto Church that went up in smoke Friday night. Firefighters were called to the scene around 8:30 p.m., but by the time they arrived, the fire was already out of control.  

As in most religious-affiliated fires, the ATF and State Fire Marshals are called in to investigate.  

"Any time we have a religious structure that's caught fire, regardless of the circumstances, ATF requests to be notified because there may be a civil rights violation," said Ricky Shores, Columbus Fire Marshal.

Making that call doesn't necessarily mean it's arson. The ATF is still working to find out why fire ripped through New Linwood Baptist Church in December and coming to a conclusion hinges on the circumstances. 

"It depends on the nature of the fire, the size of the structure, certainly those are the two most important factors and we sometimes have to send evidence off for analysis and that could take weeks," Shores said. 

Shores also indicated the fact that the two fires happened within a month doesn't mean they are related. 

There's no timeline as to when the investigation will be complete.

In the meantime, members from the Iglesia De Dios Neuvo Pacto Church are holding services at Fairview Baptist Church on Reese Road. 

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