Investigators do not believe Hayden church fire was arson
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Investigators do not believe a fire Wednesday evening at the Mission of Grace church in Hayden was intentionally set.
“At this point, the initial investigation indicates it being an accident — something mechanical,” Hayden Police Chief Greg Tuliszewski said. “We don’t have any indications of foul play.”
Tuliszewski said they are investigating whether audio equipment in a sound booth caused the fire.
West Routt Fire Protection District firefighters were called at about 5 p.m. to a report of smoke coming from the church.
No one was in the church at the time of the fire.
Assistant Chief Trevor Guire said more than a dozen Hayden firefighters responded.
“We were able to knock down a fire that had been burning for some time in the stairwell area,” Guire said.
The stairwell led to the basement, and Guire said there was thick, black smoke along with a lot of heat.
The fire extended to about 10 feet by 10 feet through the stairwell, and the main floor was damaged.
It took firefighters just a couple minutes to knock down the fire.
“We had plenty of manpower, which was wonderful,” Guire said.
There was heavy heat and smoke damage throughout the church.
The church is not habitable, and leaders were trying to find an alternate location for Sunday services.
“Praise God we are more than a building although we are thankful to have a building,” Mission of Grace posted on their Facebook page. “And thank you for the outpouring of support and prayers.”
Other agencies that helped with the fire included the Hayden Police Department, Routt County Sheriff’s Office, Atmos Energy, Town of Hayden and Yampa Valley Electric Association.
The 11-year-old survivor of a back-road Rifle rollover crash that killed two people in December 2017 testified that the alleged driver had been drinking at some point before the wreck.