MISSION, Kan. — Newly released photos taken inside a church show just how much damage a massive fire caused Thursday night.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted these pictures from inside the First Baptist Church of Mission Friday afternoon.
The pictures show the extent of damage inside. Investigators say most of the damage is in the building’s basement. As you can see from the photos, the building may not be usable for some time.
ATF agents and the Kansas Fire Marshal determined that Thursday’s fire at the church was accidental and started in the attic of the building’s educational wing.
Firefighters stopped the flames before they reached the sanctuary. The church’s pastor says his congregation can’t attend Sunday school and worship services in the building this week. He says many other pastors have reached out to him and he’s looking for an alternative location to gather on Sunday.
The ATF says it is required to be involved in the investigation into any situation like this one at a church.
“ATF will respond to any fire scene at the request of city or local officials who feel like they need fire investigation expertise. In this case, ATF is mandated by congress to investigate fires at places of worship regardless of whether those appear to be suspicious in nature or not,” John Ham, Public Information Officer for the ATF in Kansas City, said.
The church has been part of the Mission community for more than 85 years.