MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Federal and state fire officials will assist city authorities in their investigation into the cause of a fire that destroyed much of a central Indiana church, leaving one firefighter dead and two injured, a state fire marshal said Thursday.
Police officers and firefighters saluted as the body of 40-year-old Scott Davis was carried out of the Tabernacle of Praise Church in Muncie after the blaze was subdued Wednesday evening, The Star Press reported.
WISH Aerial Photos: Tabernacle of Praise Fire
"Our hearts, right now, are just broken and we are in prayer for the loss of the firefighter," the church's pastor, John Tyner, told WTHR-TV. "This is just an unimaginable feeling right now."
The Star Press said two other firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The blaze roared through the roof of the church's sanctuary and much of it collapsed as flames chased the black smoke billowing from inside. The fire's cause wasn't immediately known. Indiana Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said Thursday morning that his agency and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms would help city investigators.
"We bring resources to assist that department in trying to eliminate all the accidental causes as we work toward a determination of a cause," Greeson told WISH-TV.
Tyner told WISH-TV that no one was at the church Wednesday and that a cleaning crew had been inside the building on Tuesday. A thunderstorm with lightning crossed the Muncie area several hours before the fire broke out.
Dispatchers learned of the fire shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday. Davis went missing after the roof collapsed about 15 minutes later, The Star Press reported.
Davis, a former Yorktown fire chief, was married and the father of three children, said Delaware County Sheriff Michael Scroggins, Davis' cousin.
State Rep. Dennis Tyler, a retired Muncie firefighter, said Davis was dedicated to public safety. "The reality is if Scott was still with us, and he came back to work Friday and the same thing happened, he'd do it again," Tyler told The Star Press.
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