Church finds temporary home in wake of Sunday fire

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan 8, 2008 - Two blazes Sunday damaged a Sulphur Springs church and an old dentist’s office.

The quick discovery of the fires and response from firefighters is credited with limiting damage to one room at each location, although additional smoke damage was also reported at the sites.

The children’s church area at Family Life Church, located on East Loop 301, was burned in what firefighters Monday told church members was an electrical fire. 

The fire was discovered around 5:15 p.m. Sunday by a member who had arrived to ready things for a 6 p.m. woman’s meeting. She saw heavy smoke “boiling out” of the church, and called 911, FLC Pastor Terry Sparks said Monday.

When Sulphur Springs firefighters arrived at 5:17 p.m., they observed light, white smoke in the building and requested assistance from Hopkins County Fire Department. City firemen located the source of the smoke in the children's area, and quickly put out the fire, SSFD Investigator David James said Monday.

�The walls of the children�s classroom were burned, toys and a TV were melted, and the ceiling was also damaged. The fire was contained to the children�s area, but throughout Family Life Church, varying degrees of smoke damage were sustained. For instance the nursery directly behind the children�s church was heavily smoke damaged. The worship area and other classrooms were smoked up but not as badly.

The pastor, who was on the phone with insurance representatives Monday morning, said an adjuster would be sent to the location to inspect the damage and make an assessment. Until repairs can be made and the church ventilated and cleaned, Family Life Church will need to meet at an an alternate location, Sparks said.

A number of area churches offered Family Life use of space at their facilities, although most were large enough or available at the needed times. The pastor found a temporary home Tuesday, however. Family Life Church will be meeting in Heritage Hall at Best Western, 1521 East Shannon Road, beginning Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

The church schedule is expected to continue as normal at the temporary site, with Sunday morning worship at 10 a.m. and Wednesday services at 7  p.m., Monday night’s recovery group begins at 7 p.m. On Sunday evenings, men will meet in various church members’ homes, while  the Women’s Gathering at 7 p.m. for “Principals for Prosperous Living” will be held at the temporary church location.  For more information about the men’s group all 903-885-7507.Brother Terry Sparks will continue have radio show “Building a Better Life” broadcast from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Sundays on Star Country radio 95.9. The church website, which at times may be affected due to the fire, is www.familylifechurch.com. A nursery will be provided at the Heritage Hall location at all sessions except the Monday night recovery meetings. For more information, call 903-885-7507.

The second fire Sunday, at 424 Church St., was contained to the garage area of an older house which had been converted dentist’s office. The business has since moved.

The Church Street blaze was reported just after 10 p.m. when a woman passing by noticed the fire at Church and Cottonwood streets then went directly to the fire station, which was just a few hundred yards away, to inform firemen.

Firefighters arrived within three minutes, reporting flames were visible from the detached garage area, with smoke blowing across Church Street. They requested assistance from Hopkins County firefighters if available. HCFD’s crew, which usually ends its day at 10 p.m., was still at the station and  were able to respond.

Firefighters were able to enter the structure and quickly extinguish the fire, limiting the worst damage to the garage. The old dentist’s office sustained light smoke damage, James said.

SSFD’s Scott Isham will be investigating the fire at Family Life Church, and had yet to report an exact cause midmorning Monday. James is still investigating the Church Street blaze.

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