ATF Investigates West Sac Church Fire

| June 28, 2010

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators in West Sacramento on Sunday said someone intentionally burned a church down.

Investigators called the fire that broke out at the Broderick Christian Center at Sixth and Andrew streets Sunday morning suspicious. Those who run the facility also said it was no accident.

"(It's really) sad, real sad," West Sacramento resident Dianna Brown said.

In a matter of seconds, a 60-year-old West Sacramento church was gutted by the fire.

"There was fire coming out of the left side of the building. Up on top of the building the right side of the building, when they opened that door the whole inside of the building was on fire," one neighbor said.

"It is pretty devastating to the whole community. It is just unbelievable," said Steve Lawson, with the Broderick Christian Center.

Broderick Christian Center does not have services on Sunday. During the week, it is a hub for the homeless and families who needy daily meals, food boxes and clothes.

"It helps the needy like us," said West Sacramento resident Vickie Beaudikofer.

"I said there goes all the food for the homeless," Brown said.

Those who run the facility got the bad news at 9:40 a.m. Sunday.

"I'm sitting at home this morning getting ready to drink some coffee and my friend calls me and says the center is burning down," Lawson said.

Another blow came when worker Lawson found four vans vandalized; tires slashed and windows broken.

"These aren't just vans. These are transportation for pride industry people, people that are mentally challenged and handicapped," Lawson said.

Lawson said he suspects arson.

"I don't understand why. No matter how mad you could get how could you burn something down that affects the whole community," Lawson said.

West Sacramento police and fire investigators have called in the ATF to help determine what caused the fire.

"It is a church. It was unoccupied. With that much fire it does appear to be suspicious, so currently it is under investigation," said Steven Binns, with West Sacramento Fire.

"We don't know what to do now," Beaudikofer said.

"This should never have happened," Lawson said.

More than 100 people count on the Broderick Christian Center to eat meals there everyday. Organizers said they don't know when they are going to be open again.

Fire investigators said it may take a couple of days to determine the exact cause of this fire.

In the meantime, church leaders told KCRA 3 they hope to come up with a plan to serve meals outside in the coming weeks.

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Category: Church Security