Hillsborough County Florida

Blaze Levels Church, Pastor Says
By JOSE PATINO GIRONA jpatino@tampatrib.com
Published: Dec 29, 2002

SEFFNER - A fire severely damaged a church in a strip mall Saturday morning.

The Cathedral of Faith in Christ Church, in the Williams Shopping Center, 1907 E. U.S. 92, was ruined, Pastor Tommy Hampton said.

Hampton said fire officials told him it was arson. Fire officials could not be reached to confirm arson is suspected, but a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue dispatcher confirmed firefighters responded at 4 a.m. and that the state Fire Marshal's Office assisted at the scene.

Hampton said someone apparently broke into a vacant store adjacent to the church, crawled through the common ceiling of the shopping center and dropped down into the church.

The intruder stole $60 from a collection jar and set the church on fire, Hampton said.

Hampton said nothing inside the church could be saved: Items including clothing, sound equipment, the piano, pews, drum set, speakers, communion table, freezer and stove were lost.

``It's a total loss,'' Hampton said.

On Christmas, church members served more than 150 meals to the poor and homeless, Hampton said. The church has about 75 members.

Starting today, church services will be temporarily held at DeSoto Park Pentecostal Church, off 26th Street and State Road 60, Hampton said.

Reporter Jose Patino Girona can be reached at (813) 657-4534.