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Parishioners Believe Angry Squatter Lit Denver Church On Fire

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Fire investigators are trying to figure out what sparked a church fire in Denver early Monday morning that parishioners call suspicious.

The fire broke out after 3 a.m. at the 109-year-old Church of the Ascension near Gilpin Street and 6th.

Officials with the Denver Fire Department said the inside of the church was heavily damaged.

The church’s priest told CBS4 people are already working on trying to repair the damage.

No one was hurt.

The priest says they plan to have church services Sunday morning, however it will be held in the chapel at the far end of the structure.

“This is an amazing community of faith and we will rebuild and repair and we will get on with it,” Father Lucas Grubbs said.

An image from the church (credit; CBS)

An image from the church (credit; CBS)

An image from the church (credit; CBS)

An image from the church (credit; CBS)

An image from the church (credit; CBS)

An image from the church (credit; CBS)

Investigators believe the fire started in bushes outside of the church. Parishioners say a squatter had caused problems Sunday night and that there had been a volatile argument between the squatter and the church staff.

“Apparently a squatter who has been coming on a regular basis; we’ve had an issue with him on a regular basis, was here at the church and our rector asked him to leave. Apparently he got very upset,” church member Stephanie Johnson said. “The rector departed the scene and the next thing we knew, we did have a fire.”

There had been a lot of discussion among church members in recent months about getting rid of the bushes so that homeless individuals could not camp out there overnight. Now the decision has been made to remove the bushes.

In 1917 the church was almost destroyed by an electrical fire. This time parishioners are sad to say they believe a person may be to blame.

LINK: Church of the Ascension

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