By Don Ford

FORESTVILLE (CBS SF) — An early morning fire raced through Forestville’s historic Church of Christ Monday, leaving the 140-year-old building’s interior filled with charred pews and flame-ravaged walls.

Forestville Fire Chief Dave Franceschi said 911 calls began streaming in about 6:14 a.m. reporting flames at the church located at the corner of Covey Road and Center in the small Sonoma County town.

Firefighters quickly responded and limited much of the damage to the interior of the building. The sanctuary was gutted but there was little noticeable fire damage to the building’s distinctive bell tower.

“When crews got here the fire was well established on the inside of the building,” Franceschi said. “They made an aggressive attack on the fire.”

forestville church fire kpix

The chief says that while authorities don’t suspect arson at the moment — something in the ceiling near old wiring caught their attention — nothing is being confirmed and the investigators will take their time to determine the exact cause of the blaze.

Franceschi said it was yet to be determined if the building could be saved — 50 percent of the building was damaged by fire.

“It’s severely damaged inside,” he said.

The pews were scorched and smoke stains outlined where photos of past preachers once hung. Outside, burned bibles were stacked near one of the firetrucks. Soaking wet books and toys were piled up outside the library.

Sonoma County arson investigators were on the scene trying to determine a cause. Because the fire involved a church, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was notified, Franceschi said.

No injuries were reported.

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