UPDATE | Fire officials probe whether burned house was occupied

YOUNGSTOWN — Fire officials believe a home that caught fire early this morning and spread to a nearby church and destroyed it was not vacant.

Fire Chief John O’Neill said this morning that investigators believe the home next to the Grace Evangelistic Temple Ministries at the corner of Shehy and Forest avenues was occupied and investigators are looking for the homeowner, O’Neill said.

The home caught fire about 3 a.m. and by the time firefighters arrived it had spread to the church and was caught in the eaves of the roof. Firefighters tried to fight the flames from inside but the flames spread too quickly and they had to be pulled out, leaving some equipment behind. O’Neill said 10 minutes after they were pulled out, the roof collapsed.

All that remains of the church is the outer walls. Firefighters were still on the scene dousing hot spots at both the home and the church.

The home was also destroyed.

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