Investigators are looking into the cause of a massive fire that broke out Wednesday morning at an abandoned church in Wilton Manors.
The fire engulfed what used to be the Church of the Science of the Minds, located off the 1500 block of Northeast 26th Street. Chopper footage showed large flames coming from one part of the building.
Wilton Manor Police officers on patrol noticed the flames at around 4 a.m. Seventy-five firefighters responded, using ladder trucks and hoses on all sides to put out the flames.
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The church was sold several years ago to a management company that had plans to turn it into a 400-unit apartment building. In the years its been abandoned, it’s been an eyesore for the neighborhood
Fire officials say there was no power running to the building, and all utilities were shut off — which made them think someone started the fire.
"My guess is that some homeless people did something and it set something on fire, because there’s no power, the power has been turned off to the building for a long time," said John Fiore, the East Neighborhood Association president, "No electricity, no gas, something has to ignite it and probably a human interaction that did it.
Neighbors say people have been living and squatting in the building for years — that’s why the owner boarded up the windows and doors a while back to try to keep people out.
The state fire marshal’s office and ATF joined the investigation.
No injuries were reported.