Wash. Church Burns For a Second Time in Six Months

Central Pierce Fire & Rescue firefighters found heavy fire at the Golgotha Baptist Church Monday morning. It's the second time the structure has burned recently.

Feb. 10--A Midland area church in the process of rebuilding after a recent arson fire burned again this morning, according to Central Pierce Fire & Rescue.

About 40 firefighters were called to Golgotha Baptist Church near Portland Avenue East and 85th Street East about 9:45 a.m. and found "significant damage to the building," including a collapsed roof, spokesman Ed Hrivnak said.

Crews have been unable to enter the burning building but do not believe anyone was inside. It's unclear what started the blaze.

The fire continued to burn at 11:30 a.m. and firefighters were struggling to gain control because flames ran along the attic space, where crews couldn't access because of the collapsed roof.

"We're still fighting this fire. It's stubborn," Hrivnak said. "We can't get access to the attic space."

Crews have used about 15,000 gallons of water, he said.

The church was destroyed in September after Joshua Joseph Toves allegedly started three fires, one of which caused $1 million in damages to the church.

He told detectives he broke into the church -- where he'd never been before -- and gathered paper, plastic and a picture frame and set them ablaze. He also said he used an aerosol lubricant like a flamethrower to ignite the car, the records show.

The 10-year-old congregation is made up of immigrants from Moldova and services are in their native tongue. More than 300 people attend services on a typical Sunday, a church spokesperson has said.

Members bought the church in April 2012 for $750,000.

Copyright 2014 - The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)