04/30/16 at 8:00 PM. A church in flames in Homeland, California prompted the closure of Highway 74. The Community First Church of God in the 31400 block of Highway 74 near Juniper Flats Road in Homeland was completely engulfed in flames until firefighters from Riverside County Fire Department and Cal Fire managed to get the blaze under control by 9:21 PM.
Firefighters first attempted to enter the building but due to a structural collapse, they chose to fight the fire from outside of the church, instead. The fire was contained in under an hour but caused a considerable amount of damage to the building of approximately 5,000 square feet.
According to a press release from Riverside County Fire Department; about 45 firefighters managed to stop the flames, and crews from Southern California Edison and SoCal Gas responded to manage any possible electrical or gas hazards. Highway 74 was reopened at approximately 10:25 PM in both directions and at this time, the cause of the fire is still unknown.
The fire caused damage of approximately $800,000 and Cal Fire investigators are working with officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to determine the cause of the fire, considering it occurred at place of worship.
The ATF investigators are digging deep into the remains of the fire; even bringing in a canine from the Los Angeles Fire Department trained in detecting the presence of accelerants. At the moment, federal agents are working hard investigating what and who caused the fire. This story is still developing and updates will be posted as they become available.