Probe Deepens in Hindustani Church Fire

PUNE, INDIA (November 30, 2011) – A short-circuit has been ruled out as the cause for the fire that destroyed St. Andrews Hindustani Covenant Church on Monday morning, says Steven David, the denomination moderator.

“Today the Electrical Engineer & Inspector of Public Wealth Department, Mr. Thorat, inspected the devastated site and confirmed that electrical short circuit was NOT the cause of fire,” David said in an email.

Police initially blamed an internal short-circuit, but church leaders called for a more detailed investigation, saying they believed the fire is the result of sabotage. They contended that the fire could not have destroyed the building in 40 minutes unless the blaze was set.

Government officials visited the site and have pressed police to gather additional evidence.

The 1,000-member congregation is determined to keep meeting and restore the building, which was gutted. They plan to meet in a tent shelter, Pastor Sachin Masih told the Pune Mirror.

The church also has the ambitious goal of restoring the 150-year-old building by Christmas. Cleaning operations began today.

For previous Covenant News Service stories, see “Historic Artifacts Destroyed” and “Church Gutted.”

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