Firefighters Battle Fire at KS Church Building

Katie Moore and Tammy Ljungblad

The Kansas City Star

(MCT)

Mar. 5—A structure fire was reported at First Baptist Church of Mission just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Flames and smoke could be seen rushing from the building’s roof, which later collapsed.

Consolidated Fire District 2 in Johnson County responded to the scene at 5641 Outlook St. The fire was originating from the building attached to the sanctuary, but had not reached it.

The building was unoccupied when crews arrived and no one was hurt, a fire official said.

When firefighters arrived on scene there was heavy smoke and the fire had already breached the attic.

“Fortunately there are two different structures here and we were able to keep the fire contained to the north structure,” said Deputy Chief of Operations Steve Chick.

The south structure — the sanctuary — has not had any damage yet, he said. The other building is a “total loss.”

Approximately 40 firefighters and EMS responders were at the scene, including partners from Overland Park and Shawnee fire departments, and Med-Act.

Because the fire was in the attic, it was unsafe for crews to go into the building so they were fighting the flames from above using aerial ladders.

“Right now it’s about controlling the fire in the original building and taking care of the people who are on scene,” Chick said.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. The State Fire Marshal will investigate.

Larry Land, a deacon who told The Star he was at the church when the fire broke out, said it started in the yellow part of the building, which was once in use for Sunday school. He’s been a member of the church since 1974 and said this is “tough, really tough.” He was working on a lesson for adult Sunday school when the fire began.

Onlookers gathered at the scene, and Phil Porter of Mission said he saw light, white smoke at first. But the smoke and flames quickly grew.

“It was a big deal,” Porter said. “I hope that the church has adequate fire insurance.”

Roads to the church were blocked off.

Derek Moore, of Roeland Park, who had been walking past the scene earlier in the evening, said he was concerned when he saw the flames.

“It was smoking, real dark smoke and it looked like it was containing the roof area,” Moore said. “I knew it was going to be an event.”

As of 7:30 p.m., the fire was still ablaze, but had been contained to the originating structure.

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