Phoenix Police: Fire investigators working to determine cause, origin of church fire

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PHOENIX (FOX 10) - Phoenix Police officials said Wednesday afternoon that fire investigators are looking into a fire that destroyed a Catholic church in north Phoenix.

According to the Phoenix Fire Department, over 60 firefighters battled a fire at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Parish near 40th Street and Shea Boulevard.

The incident happened at around midnight on Wednesday. According to Phoenix Police, officers responded to the church, where officers noticed a fire had started in the area of the sanctuary. Officers then evacuated and secured the area for fire crews to respond.

The fire spread to the attic and was burning the roof of the church. Crews used a defensive strategy to fight the fire and are working to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to nearby buildings.

No one was injured, and an investigation is ongoing.

"It's devastating," said Joseph Pomarico. "It was a beautiful, beautiful church."

The Diocese of Phoenix released the following statement on 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."

According to the church's website, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Parish was established in 1969 and was built in 1972.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier on Wednesday, Phoenix Police officials said, in a statement, that Phoenix Fire arson investigators have taken over an investigation surrounding the fire. However, Phoenix Police officials have since said the Phoenix Fire Investigations Unit will determine the cause and origin of the fire, and the use of the term "arson" is incorrect and premature.