PHOENIX — Fire crews spent the early morning hours extinguishing a large fire that destroyed a north Phoenix church Wednesday.
Phoenix Fire Department says crews were dispatched to St. Joseph's Catholic Church near 40th Street and Shea Boulevard after midnight.
When they arrived, flames were burning through the roof of the church, coming from inside the building. Crews made the decision to switch to a defensive strategy and prevented the blaze from spreading to neighboring buildings.
At 6 a.m. Wednesday, hours after the fire started, crews were still putting out hot spots.
Aerials over the scene showed extensive damage to the entire building, which reportedly just underwent some renovations.
No injuries were reported during the blaze.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, and officials say it is being investigated for potential arson, though no determination had been made.
Police say investigators have learned a Presbyterian church a block away from St. Joesph's was broken into and "badly vandalized," according to Det. Luis Samudio, a department spokesperson. Gateway Academy, also in that area, was also vandalized in what police are calling an attempted burglary.
Samudio said it had not been determined whether the three incidents were related to the same suspect or group of suspects.
The Diocese of Phoenix released the following statement after the fire:
This morning we awoke to the tragic news of the fire at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Phoenix. The Phoenix Fire Department is investigating the fire. The church building was destroyed and there were no injuries. We will have more to share as it becomes available.
We are heartbroken for the St. Joseph Catholic community and we are grateful for the bravery of the fire fighters and first responders.
There are tentative plans to celebrate Masses somewhere on the church property this weekend.
Today on this feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, we ask the community to join us in prayer.