UPDATE 9/17/13 @ 12:57 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) --Fire officials are calling a fire at an abandoned church arson.
Officials say they now have a better idea of what started the fire. They believe someone took a lighter and held it up against the outside of the building. They say the church is very old and the wood is rotting, which made it ignite into flames.
A Charleston Police officer was patrolling the area when he noticed smoke. The fire department arrived on scene to find the church completely engulfed in flames. They are calling it a total loss.
Fire investigators say they do not have any suspects, although they do believe the person who started the church fire may have also attempted to start a fire the same way at a building just down the street right after. The CARES building sustained smoke damage, but no one was hurt.
The church on Hornes Avenue has been abandoned for about one year. Investigators say it was a place homeless gathered to seek shelter. It has since been boarded up and there was no one inside at the time of the fire. They also say all utilities were shut off.
The West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office is offering an award of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. If you know anything, you're encouraged to call 800-233-3473.
The fire was reported at 6:35 a.m. in the 1600 block of Hornes Avenue.
They're saying the fire is suspicious.
Firefighters tell WSAZ.com the building was being used as a church up until about six months ago.
No word on what caused the fire, but investigators say no utilities were hooked up.
Investigators from the fire department will look into what ignited the fire.
We have a crew at the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
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