Federal agents called to investigate Leary church fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Federal agents called to investigate Leary church fire

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December 10, 2007

Calhoun County --  Yellow tape surrounds the perimeter of the Spring Creek Missionary Baptist Church.

But within the yellow barrier, National Response federal agents are working to piece together the puzzle.

"In this case the Georgia State Fire Marshal's office asked us to assist because this was a fairly complicated scene. And the fire caused significant damage. We are estimating approximately three million dollars," said Assistant Special Agent, Scott Sweetow.

The National Response Team is made up of a 10 member crew that will spend the next several days reconstructing the scene with hopes of finding the cause of the fire.

But it's not just federal agents who make up this team of investigators. "Fire protection engineers, electrical engineers, forensic chemists certified fire investigators and accelerant detectors and accelerant detection canines," said Sweetow.

All of them come together to help local authorities come up with answers. "We've done this all over the United States. Things like the World trade Center in 1993, Oklahoma city in 95 and also the 9-11 attacks," said Sweetow.

And now they are in Leary, Georgia. Though this fire may seem small on the scale major disasters, they know it is no less important.

"ATF is particularly concerned with church fires. It's a significant incident usually in a community. It causes both emotional impact and direct financial impact in communities," said Sweetow.

It will take at least two days for the ATF's National Response Team to figure out the cause of this fire and whether it was arson.

Federal Agents are asking for the public's help. Anyone with information, especially anyone who saw the church burning or made calls to 9-1-1, should call 1-888-ATF-Fire.

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