Weatherford Democrat

December 14, 2012

Six-alarm fire destroys Adell church sanctuary

Pastor hopes congregation can hold Sunday services in adjacent building


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE

ccoyne@weatherforddemocrat.com

ADELL – A six-alarm fire Thursday morning destroyed a church building used by Adell Community Fellowship in northwest Parker County.

Firefighters from across the county and beyond responded to the blaze that was called in around 8 a.m. with 18 agencies eventually responding, according to Parker County Public Information Officer Joel Kertok. There were no injuries reported.

A passerby saw smoke coming from the sanctuary building and called 911 before turning off the propane to the building, Senior Pastor Mike Wiley said.

The building, located at the intersection of Adell Circle, Adell Road and Farm-to-Market Road 1885, appeared to have been burning for some time before the fire was discovered because the areas around the doors were already blackened, according to Wiley.

He arrived at the church at 8:30 a.m. and found smoke coming from the building, particularly in the back, Wiley said.

The two-story metal structure housed Sunday morning services for about 80 to 90 members of the congregation, as well as Wednesday night youth services, Wiley said.

The primary need for assistance was manpower, as it was the middle of a weekday, a time when many volunteer firefighters are traditionally at work, according to Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott. Firefighters from departments in Wise County and Mineral Wells were also requested to help with the fire that lasted well into the afternoon.

“Church fires are inherently dangerous,” Scott said, citing factors such as the high ceilings and difficulty gaining access to the fire.

To get water to the scene, tanker trucks from various Parker County fire departments and Precinct 2 shuttled water to the site and firefighters pumped from collapsible temporary water tanks.

Because of the size of the structure and because it was a church, Scott said he requested the Tarrant County Arson Task Force’s assistance in the investigation, adding that he knew of nothing to indicate it was arson.

The fire appeared to originate in the sanctuary near where the band equipment was stored, Scott said Thursday evening.

The central heat was turned on and was in the same area, he said.

“I’m not sure if it was heater failure or what,” Scott said. “We’re still looking into it.”

A ladder engine from Lockheed Martin Fire Department, Parker County CERT, the Red Cross, LifeCare, DPS and other agencies provided assistance at the scene, as well.

Scott estimated they had about 100 firefighters helping to put out the blaze.

Most had cleared by about 4 p.m. though some were expected to keep an eye on the scene into the night.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Scott said. “The effort that they put in today was monumental.”

Scott said the fire was the largest structure fire in the county this year.

The destroyed building was the church’s primary facility and was erected about seven or eight years ago, Wiley said.

The church originally met in the building currently housing the children’s ministry and the younger students on Wednesday evenings, according to Wiley. That’s where the congregation plans to hold their service Sunday.

They owed nothing on the building and had been adding a room at a time to the building as they could afford, according to Wiley. The building was nearly completed with only a couple of rooms left to finish, he said.

However, the building was insured, Wiley said.

“Honestly, right now, we’re in the shock and awe stage,” Wiley said Thursday morning.

Wiley said he was amazed by how many churches had called him by mid-morning Thursday offering their sanctuaries and support.

Wiley said the church just needs prayers as they deal with the situation.

“We’re certainly not going to let this fire take our spirit and our heart,” Wiley said, adding that they will be returning to their roots in the old building.

“Out of the ashes, good will come,” Wiley said.