PEMBROKE, Maine — The cause of an Oct. 29 fire that leveled the First Baptist Church in the Washington County community of Pembroke has been officially classified “undetermined,” Maine State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said Monday.
“We just didn’t have enough to go on to do a more specific finding,” said Thomas. “There was just too much damage.”
Gary Kinney, pastor of the church, said the congregation, which numbered 33 at services held Sunday in The Pembroke Elementary School gymnasium, won’t decide whether to rebuild until an annual meeting in January. The 1865 church building was insured against fire for $440,000, Kinney said.
Thomas said investigators who brought in heavy equipment to de-layer the charred debris were able to determine the fire was not sparked by an unattended electric space heater. Kinney had feared he had left the heater plugged in overnight.
“I showed them exactly where it was, and they fished it out,” Kinney said. “They showed it to me, and it had been unplugged. I didn’t want to carry that with me for the rest of my life.”
Thomas said he is happy that the on-scene investigation was able to resolve the space heater issue.
“We were out there quite a few days, but in this case it was worth it, just to give the pastor some peace of mind,” Thomas said.