Cadaver dogs brought to site of SJ church fire


San Jose fire Capt. Charles Rangel said the dogs are being taken to the site at 217 Delmas Ave. this morning to make sure there are no bodies inside the gutted building.

"We just wanted to check out the area," he said.

Rangel said homeless people were known to frequent the church and the neighborhood. At the time of the fire, the building was abandoned and surrounded by a chain-link fence.

He said the 3,000-square-foot church dated back about a century.

The same church was in local headlines last month when police found the body of Hideki Hirakawa, a 45-year-old transient, inside the building on Feb. 5. Investigators believe Hirakawa was murdered.

Rangel said there is no indication the fire was somehow connected to the murder but said nothing has yet been ruled out. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The blaze was reported at about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday. Firefighters arrived to find the church engulfed in flames. Power lines dangled above the burning building, and power was briefly knocked out to about 1,000 PG&E customers, a utility spokeswoman said.

The fire was controlled in about an hour.

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