UPDATE: Investigation into Tyler fires continues - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

UPDATE: Investigation into Tyler fires continues

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Authorities are one day closer to figuring out what caused two weekend church fires in Tyler.  Two teams of investigators have been at Tyland Baptist Church and First Church of Christ, Scientist looking for any possible connections to the fires.

All hands were on deck, along with an arsenal of mobile command centers, track-hoes and aerial lifts at the different church sites.

"[We are] taking measurements and doing forensic mapping which is computer regeneration of the building, just to see how stable the walls are," explained Special Agent Tom Crowley with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 

"We can't really get in and do a whole lot until we ensure that the structure is safe enough for us to be inside," said Paul Findley, Tyler Fire Marshal.

Crews brought down one of the exterior walls left standing at Tyland Baptist Church.  It was done as a precaution--so that investigators can move around without of the threat of the wall coming down on top of them.

At First Church of Christ, Scientist, ATF agents spent much of the day prepping the decades-old church for demolition.  After standing for more than 60 years at the Broadway and Second Street location, the steeple was pulled to the ground.

Robert Reed dropped by with his camera to document the scene for the Smith County historical society.

"I'm not a structural person, but, hopefully, they can save the building, itself," he said.

Investigators said they hope to keep as much of the original building in tact, but they said their initial priority is to find out what led to both blazes.

"We just want to make sure that we investigate this fully," said Findley.

Right now, officials estimate the damages from the two fires at nearly 2-million dollars.

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