Investigation still open in Cross Tracks fire

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The cause of the fire that consumed one of the Cross Tracks Church buildings May 11 remains undetermined to date due to the instability of the remaining structure.

The building, only feet from the historic chapel building, was home to the Sonshine Friends Preschool, the church offices and the fellowship hall.

The fire, which is believed to have started between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. May 11, consumed the inside of the building, leaving only the stone exterior.

Investigators, led by Williamson County ESD #4 Fire Marshal Keeling Neves, did what work they could, even calling in Austin Fire Department inspectors to determine if the building could be shored up to gain more access. It was determined some areas of the building could not be secured and shred up well enough to provide access to investigators.

“Between us and the County Fire Marshal’s office we decided to go ahead and turn the scene back over to the church because we couldn’t get into part of the building over safety concerns.”

The church plans to remove the building and rebuild eventually on the site according to Pastor John Saint, but for now, the investigation remains open.

“It is still open at this point just in case when they start the demolition that if we catch it just right and it is safe for us to go into those three or four areas we couldn’t before, we can look around,” Neves said. “We didn’t get to look at the electrical panel that well because it was in a really hard area to get to.”

He said nothing has been found to this point that would indicate the fire was intentionally set.

Neves said he understands that the church is bringing in equipment to do a controlled demolition of the building, but permits are required from the state and it could take some time.

“They’re doing that because it is so close to their historic chapel and next to their current sanctuary,” he said. “From what the demolition company told me, you have to pull permits through the state for asbestos and those type things and it could take two weeks to a month to get those permits from the state.”

No one was in the building when the fire started, and no one was injured. Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the chapel, separated from the building only by a sidewalk.

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