Homeless man accused of starting Downtown Fresno church fire

FRESNO, Calif.

Crews got a call about the fire at around 12 a.m. Sunday. The fire started at the Powerhouse Institutional Church of God in Christ in Downtown Fresno.

Fresno fire said witnesses reported seeing a homeless person near the building and then running away as the fire spread. Flames were seen burning in a tall palm tree and then into the attic of the three story church. Police arrested 52-year-old Craig Gaut early Sunday morning. Investigators say they found him near the scene of a fire at the Power House Institutional Church.

"The difficulties with this fire was not that it was just on the attic, but also trying to get access from the roof and from the bottom," Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo said.

Officials say most of the damage is on the front of the building. Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the fire and if it was intentional or accidental.

No word yet on the estimated cost of those damages.

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