As investigation into church fire continues, church staff members try to pick up the pieces

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- As investigators continue to comb through debris at St. Joseph Catholic Church in North Phoenix to look for clues about what sparked a devastating fire, church staff are combing the debris for any items they can salvage.

Phoenix Fire, Police, and ATF agents are sifting through evidence, and it appears two possible causes stand out. One is arson, and police are looking into whether the fire was related to two other burglaries in the same area that happened around the same time the fire started to burn.

The other possibility that stands out is the possibility that this could have been an accident.

Meanwhile, the St. Joseph Catholic Church is a total loss, but there were noticeably two things that were spared from the flames: the steel cross that towers over the property, and a monstrance, a sacred item that was the focal point of the church's adoration chapel. It was covered by a veil, and church staff said Thursday it will be framed and hung inside the new church.

In addition to sifting through the rubble and collecting evidence, investigators are also interviewing several people, including the contractor hired to renovate the altar in the sanctuary.

"We're interviewing that individual, as well what materials he used," said Rob McDade with the Phoenix Fire Department. "In addition to that, we're talking to police about the surrounding vandalism that happened."

A person who recorded a video of himself in front of the fire and then posted it on social media, was also questioned. In the video, he claimed he got away with starting it, but police officials have since said the person made up the story to gain attention.

On Thursday, a steady stream of people have stopped by the church, looking for ways to help. This man doesn't attend st. Joseph, but has fond memories of the church.

"We can hear the church bells ringing in our backyard," said Andy St. John, who doesn't attend the church but lives in the area. "It's one of the things I love about this neighborhood."

St. John offered to start a fundraising campaign to help raise money to rebuild the church.

"If it's a Catholic Christian church, any kind of church, we're all neighbors. That's how we're supposed to be to each other," said St. John.

The church continues to hold mass during its regular times in the Ascension Hall, which fits 120 people. Church officials will now have to figure out how to accommodate hundreds more for the weekend masses.

St. Joseph Roman Catholic Parish