PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Portsmouth fire crews battled a two-alarm blaze at the parsonage of St. Paul's Catholic Church early Saturday morning.
Firefighters responded to the church at 518 High Street around 5:08 a.m. after it was reported that it was on fire.
When crews arrived on the scene there was heavy smoke in the area which made it difficult for crews to determine exactly where the smoke was coming from. After investigating, crews discovered the fire coming from the basement of the parsonage.
The fire appeared to start in the basement of the parsonage and made its way into the walls and eventually into a first floor kitchen area. Crews worked quickly and were able to contain the fire to the basement and the kitchen area. The fire did not extend to the main church building , according to a fire department spokesman.
Fire investigators determined that the fire was started by a homeless person who gained entry to the basement through an unlocked door. Fire officials tell WAVY.com it appeared the person started a fire in a container they found in an attempt to stay warm.
Church officials told fire investigators that a lot of homeless people gather in the area around basement door. Investigators say there was no sign of forced entry and there appears to no malice involved.
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