ST. PAUL, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Emergency crews responded to a two-alarm fire at a church near Wylie on Tuesday morning. Flames were first reported around 4:15 a.m. at the Iglesia Cristo Es Rey Church, located in the 1700 block of Parker Road near Lakeview Drive. This is in the St. Paul area of Collin County.
A neighbor walking his dog first spotted the fire and called authorities to the scene.
“When we arrived, there was fire coming through the roof,” explained Chief Brent Parker of the Wylie Fire Department. Parker said that this made the blaze difficult to battle at first, until his crews could get inside of the building and into the upper attic. Firefighters focused their efforts toward the back of the building, behind the steeple, where part of the roof collapsed.
Officials said that the design of the church made the fire even harder to fight. The building was split up into many small rooms. “The church is cut up into various areas, so it’s making it difficult to find every part that’s on fire,” Parker said at the scene.
Firefighters outside of the structure were also making sure that flames did not spread to the tall and very dry grass surrounding the church, as that could have posed a serious threat to the homes located about 20 to 30 yards away from the scene.
Nobody was inside of the building when the blaze began. However, one firefighter was injured during this incident. Parker said that one of his crew members from Sachse was aggressively fighting the fire inside of the church’s attic when he fell six feet from a ladder. He was witnessed exiting the burning building and collapsing to the ground. That firefighter was treated at a Plano hospital for back pain and is now doing well.
Fire officials said that the church will likely be completely destroyed, leaving the congregation homeless. The structure was built in 1985. Another building on the property is leased to Amazing Grace Fellowship, which also houses a pantry. The cause of the fire is now under investigation.
Pastor Tito Vasquez said that it was tough to see the damage done to his church, but he is grateful that nobody was inside at the time. “It’s sad,” he said, “because this is our church.” The congregation was supposed to hold a special service on Tuesday night, hosing a pastor from Guatemala. The church is now trying to find a new location for their services.
“Thank God nobody was here when it happened,” said church member Daniel Zacarias.
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