Large fire burns building at Christ Community Church of the Nazarene in Concord

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Federal and county investigators are trying to figure out what started a church in the East Bay Thursday morning. No one was hurt in the huge blaze.

The sanctuary of Church of the Nazarene in Concord did not burn but a building across the parking lot went up in flames.

Firefighters got the call at 5:30 Thursday morning.

The pastor stood on the sidewalk and watched calmly but sadly as firefighters worked.

"I'm emotional inside, yes. It's kind of my job to be calm and composed but honestly waking up to this news is not the kind of thing you'd ever expect," Rev. Janelle Maher said.

The church is located on Ashbury Drive, less than half a mile from Concord's Todos Santos Plaza. The pastor says the homeless will sometimes sleep in the building and use its kitchen.

"My first thought is we occasionally have people that break into the building but also it's the oldest part of the building so those are both possibilities," she said.

"We don't have any knowledge of anyone inside at the time of the fire but our investigators will do a complete investigation," said Assistant Chief Jeff Peter, whose investigative team at the time had not been allowed in out of fear of the roof collapsing.

"The fire investigators did ask some questions because we do have a Korean congregation that meets here and an Indonesian congregation meets here, so we have some signage not in English. But we haven't received any threats, so we don't think that's what would be going on," Reverend Maher said.

As investigators search for the cause, she is counting her blessings.

"We do have someone who does security for us, he lives on-site for us, but in our gym. Once I knew he was ok, that settled my nerves. Buildings are replaceable," she said.

An investigator from the ATF was on scene to help search for the cause.
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