An apparent electrical fire that started between floors burned for hours before being detected, severly damaging Acts2 Chuch in Gretna Feb. 22.
The church, located at 20362 Husker Drive, remains closed while an insurance investigation is pending.
Gretna Fire Chief Rod Buethe said their investigation, which had to be sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, determined the cause to be an electrical fire. Any fire at a church has to be reported to the ATF.
“They were comfortable with our investigation,” Buethe said. “They decided not to do one of their own.
“When we walked out, we turned it back over to the church and the building owner.”
ATF Public Information Officer John Ham out of the Kansas City office said it's standard for every church fire to be reported.
“They felt it was clearly accidental,” Ham said. “If that were to change, we would be there and bring our resources. Nothing can shake a community to its core like a church fire.”
Acts2 Pastor Ben Norvig has nothing but praise for the volunteer firefighters from Gretna and Springfield that responded to the blaze.
“Those firefighters are rock stars in my book,” he said. “Luckily no one was there. It could have been significantly worse.”
John Norvig, one of the church elders and Ben's father, said it was the work of the firemen who deserve the praise.
“We share the building with three businesses, and the firemen saved those businesses from major damage,” he said. “For that and the fact that no one was injured, we are very thankful.”
Acts2 Chuch was incorporated in January 2009 and used to hold services in the basement of City Hall.
From there, it moved into a small bay at its current building. As the church grew, it moved into the larger space three years ago.
The church moved its Feb. 23 Sunday service to Nebraska Christian College, 12550 S. 114th St. in Papillion, for its first service after the fire. Services will be at the college at least through March 16. Nearly 150 people attended the service, which was higher than a normal Sunday service.
“It was neat to see some of the people who did show up,” Norvig said.
For now, there's no time frame when the members of the church will be able to start cleaning up and rebuilding the destroyed parts of the church. Insurance companies for both the church and building need to complete their investigations, incluing an exact cause of the fire with all certainty before letting the church back in.
“Things are in a holding pattern,” Norvig said. “We're hoping to be given the green light early next week to start the clean up.”
Churches from across Gretna and across the state have reached out to Acts2 for support and to offer help of any kind.
“It's been amazing,” Norvig said. “We've had several churches in Gretna reach out to us asking if there's anything they can do. Churches across the state say they are praying for us. Some local businesses are helping out, too.
“There's all these different people coming together. It's really amazing to see.”
For weekly events such as youth meetings or clubs, church elders are asking people to check the church's website, A2gretna.org, for locations.