ATF agents say no signs of criminal activity in Bridgepoint Church fire

(Source: Kathy Eggert Oberski)
(Source: Kathy Eggert Oberski)
Church members gathered for service and fellowship a day after their buildings were destroyed in a fire (Source: WTOL)
Church members gathered for service and fellowship a day after their buildings were destroyed in a fire (Source: WTOL)
(Source: Jason Wagle)
(Source: Jason Wagle)
(Source: Beth Wodarski)
(Source: Beth Wodarski)

MONROE COUNTY, MI (WTOL) - It was a numbing, devastating and helpless feeling for anyone who has ever worshiped at the non-denominational Bridgepoint Church on Erie Rd. in Temperance.

Flames devastated the church sacristy, day care center, offices and gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

The most emotional and memorable sight of the day was when the church steeple came crashing through the roof and disappeared into the sacristy.

"It was crazy. I've been coming here for 43 years. Surreal when I saw the steeple come down," said Jim Brunt.

It was a challenging fire to contain because of its size.

Fire crews were able to tap into nearby hydrants, but that was not enough.

Departments from Monroe and Lenawee Counties pitched in by bringing in tanker trucks filled with water.

"It's horrible to see it go. So many people have been here all their lives. But like everyone was saying. It's not a building it's the people inside," said church member Beth Horoszewski.

Church members gathered to form a prayer circle. They were thankful there were no people inside.

That's because no activities were scheduled on Saturday on the church campus.

"Today was the only day it happened. It was vacant. So we thank God we were safe. Nothing happened. We don't know what's next but God does and we can't wait to find out," said Pastor Matt Hafer.

As sunset approached, the sacristy roof finally caved in.

Everybody is counting their blessings that nobody was hurt.

"I feel sad. There's a lot of memories that went up in flames. But I know we'll be strong and it will just bring us  together," said church member Sherri Diehl.

As church members stood, prayed and watched a building central to their lives crumble in front of them, all they could do was wonder what comes next.

On Sunday, when the building should have been filled with parishioners, it was filled instead with firemen poking around to see what might have sparked the flames

A few miles away, at Bedford High School, the 400 members of Bridge Point met to embrace each other and embrace an uncertain future.

"Yeah, we're sad, it's unfortunate, but it's only a building. The church didn't die yesterday, it's as strong as it's ever been," said Pastor Craig Killinen.

For now, the Bedford auditorium will be the new Bridgepoint Church.

As to where and when the members rebuild from the ashes, it's still an unknown, but members have each other and the belief that a stronger power will guide them to the answers.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined, however, ATF agents have said there is no evidence of criminal activity.

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