Cigarette blamed for Terrace church fire

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Pastor Franklin Paine does not know where his congregation will worship this Sunday.

Mount Zion Lutheran Church was heavily damaged by fire and smoke early Wednesday morning. “Right now, we’re just cleaning up,” Paine said.

The future is uncertain for the congregation, which has about 30 regulars at its Sunday service.

Paine has been with the parish since 1984, and is one of two pastors there.

The fire was reported at around 3:30 a.m.

About 30 firefighters responded from Fire District 1 and the Lynnwood Fire Department. When they arrived on the scene, flames were shooting out of the roof of the building. Firefighters extinguished the blaze by about 4:30 a.m.

The fire tore through the attic over the church’s rectory. Charred ceiling and roof material littered the rectory’s offices, common room and kitchen.

The roof had partially collapsed. Its burnt beams sagged into the rooms below. The sanctuary had some smoke and water damage inside.

The fire caused an estimated $300,000 worth of damage, said Fire District 1 Battalion Chief Jerry Sheehan.

Investigators believe the fire started from a cigarette discarded in a plastic container behind the building.

Firefighters initially suspected a glass bottle was a fire bomb.

“It turned out to be just a Snapple bottle,” he said.

No one was inside when the fire started.

As a precaution, Sheehan said, one firefighter was taken to the hospital after some ceiling material fell on him.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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