Hillside Baptist Church fireA strong smell of smoke invaded the air on the north side of Hillside Baptist Church as firefighters removed debris from a Thursday morning fire.
A strong smell of smoke invaded the air on the north side of Hillside Baptist Church as firefighters removed debris from a Thursday morning fire.
Three people were in the church when it caught fire. No one was injured.
Claudette Franchuk was cleaning near the junior and senior youth room and at about 7 a.m., she thought she smelled wood burning. She told Jawayne Sahr, administrative assistant, and the two saw smoke shortly after.
The fire ignited in the attic, Dickinson Fire Department Chief Bob Sivak said. Insulation against the gas fire furnace chimney likely caused the fire to ignite.
“That furnace has a long history of issues,” Dickinson Police Department Sgt. Dave Wilkie said. “That’s documented both by the property owner and the company that’s been servicing the furnace.”
Though arson is believed to have caused a fire at Church of Christ Thursday, foul play isn’t suspected in the Hillside fire, Wilkie said.
“There was no entry point, there was nothing stolen that we’re aware of,” Wilkie said. “It’s just an absolutely strange, strange coincidence.”
Lead pastor Ron Gold was surprised when he pulled into the parking lot.
“I saw these fire trucks and police and said ‘Oh my goodness what happened?’” Gold said. “Even as a pastor, you get a little anxious.”
Quick responses kept the fire from spreading, he added.
“I want to commend the fire department for their speed in responding,” Gold said. “Communities often forget that our fire and police respond immediately to crisis and that’s what probably saved a lot of the damage to the church.”
Other church members are happy the fire didn’t spread.
“We are praising God, because it could have been a lot worse,” Sahr said. “We are just so thankful to the Lord Jesus that He protected us and He protected this church.”
Larry Clifton, a member of the church involved in youth programs, said the fire was “a little bit disheartening.” He works with younger children who use the room which caught fire, but is still shaken by the fire.
Plans for repairing the youth room are under way and members will use another room to hold activities, he added. No damage estimate was available.