Church fire in Oxen Hill under investigation

A two-alarm fire Tuesday morning badly damaged a church in Oxon Hill, burning through the roof but causing no injuries, according to the Prince George’s County Fire Department.

Investigators are searching for a cause of the fire at the First Wesleyan Baptist Church in the 1800 block of Iverson Street. The fire was first reported about 7:30 a.m.

Mark Brady, a fire department spokesman, said firefighters arrived to find flames shooting through the roof of the one-story church. He said firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 25 minutes. He said nobody was inside.

As is routine with all church fires, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was notified and “more than likely will assist us in the investigation,” Brady said.

But, the spokesman said later, investigators do not believe the cause is suspicious. Brady said the church held a New Year’s Eve service starting at 10 p.m. Monday. Midway through, he said, the church and much of the surrounding neighborhood lost power. He said the pastor concluded the service and people left before power was restored.

The fire department released several photos of the fire and the aftermath, showing a a charred interior and a Bible on the floor and caked in soot and ash. Another picture shows a burned silhouette of a cross on a brick wall. Firefighters removed a cross that hung behind the alter and put it outside, in a garden, next to bigger cross on an outside wall.

Brady said damages are estimated at $100,000.

The pastor, the Rev. Robert Beckles, was at the church Tuesday morning and could not immediately be reached for comment.

This article has been updated

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