Arson Dog to Aid Investigation Into Church Fire

Wednesday, May 15, 2013  |  Updated 12:31 PM CDT
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Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that gutted the Graceland Community Baptist Church in Cedar Hill early Wednesday morning.

Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News

Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that gutted the Graceland Community Baptist Church in Cedar Hill early Wednesday morning.

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Cedar Hill investigators are still trying to find out what sparked a fire inside the Graceland Community Baptist Church early Wednesday morning.

As part of their investigation, officials will use a dog trained to smell accelerants that are used to start fires.  The dog, who is being driven to North Texas from San Antonio, is expected to arrive in Cedar Hill Wednesday afternoon.

Hours after the flames were extinguished, firefighters were still watering down hotspots and digging through the rubble.

Meanwhile, the congregation of the 20-year-old church looked on in horror.

"It just hurts us really bad to see this," said member Vickie Bass. "It's like, what do we do from here? Where do we go from here? So we are really just destroyed about it."

As the fire marshal begins the investigation into how it started, the church pastor of 20 years is praying for strength.

"To see it goes up in flames, we hate that this occurred. To have something like this happen it's heartbreaking," said Rev. Cedric Strickland.

Strickland said several other churches have already reached out to him to open their doors to the Graceland congregation. But right now they don't know where they will have services.

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