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Church of the Nazarene choir room fire blamed on electric amplifier.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

A fire that destroyed a church choir room and damaged two other rooms this week started inside an electric bass amplifier, a fire department investigation has found.

The amplifier was plugged into the wall inside Fairfield Church of the Nazarene, 1052 Fairfield Ave., west of Highway 99 in Eugene, fire department spokesman Glen Potter said.

Reports of smoke and an orange glow drew fire crews to the church at 2:27 a.m. Monday. They had the fire under control in less than 30 minutes. Damage was estimated at $275,000.

Investigators were unable to determine exactly what caused the amp to burn, but Potter said they found nothing suspicious.

Church administrator Luther Bennett said Tuesday that he worried initially that the fire could have been intentionally set - vandals had earlier sprayed graffiti on the building's exterior - but he was relieved to hear the cause was accidental.

The church used the room for choir practice, and Lifegate Christian School used it as a music room, he said.

It was destroyed, and an adjacent baptismal room and flower room were damaged. But the flames stopped short of the sanctuary, he said.

"You can see where the flames were lapping at the sanctuary walls," Bennett said. "You think, `The Lord took control of that.' '

The heat melted the metal musical instruments inside the choir room and warped an exterior door, he said. That may have saved the rest of the building, he said. When the door warped, it triggered a burglar alarm and alerted alarm company Sonitrol that something was amiss.

"I'm convinced that if that door hadn't pulled away we wouldn't have a church today," Bennett said.

The building is insured, and cleaning crews were working to remove the smoke odor Tuesday. Bennett said they'll probably begin tearing out the damaged walls and cabinets inside the music room today. The church hopes to have the sanctuary ready for services this Sunday.
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Title Annotation:Fires
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 11, 2007
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