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TPD detectives keep church fire from getting much worse

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TPD detectives keep church fire from getting much worse

By Craig Smith. CREATED Apr 18, 2014 - UPDATED: Apr 19, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - You could call it a Holy Week miracle: a historic church set on fire but spared serious damage because someone just happened to see it as the fire was just starting.

The fire was at the hundred year old Holy Family Church at University and Main, but quick response limited damage to a stair well and smoke on the walls.

The walls of Holy Family Church are usually pearly white.  Black smoke stains on the wall now show what a close call the church had.
On Holy Thursday, someone stuffed a can full of paper, and set it on fire.

The pastor, Rev. Canon Richard von Menshengen had to get church volunteers to safety and something more: "I had to rescue the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday."  
But the sacrament is secured, volunteers are safe, and the church's historic interior is untouched because some Tucson Police Detectives were in the right place to see the fire just getting started.

Canon von Menshengen says, "The detectives are from Midtown and happened to drive by, by Divine Providence and immediately reacted."
The detectives were able to get Tucson Fire to the church while the fire was still small.

Tucson Fire Captain Barrett Baker says that's a huge help.

"Response time is always the name of the game for us because fire grows exponentially so the faster we get there, the faster we have a chance to control the situation."

Here's another bit of Providence. Where the fire was set is actually somewhat fire resistant and there's a metal door that prevented the fire from burning its way into the main church.
So now the church that has seen a hundred years of life:  of baptisms, communions, wedding and funerals, stays standing in the hearts and souls of Tucsonans it has touched.
The church says it has received no threats that would help explain what happened.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press