Texas Firefighters Battle Church Fire

On May 12, 2003, at 23:24, a lady drove to the Cleburne Texas Station One on North Brazos and told the firemen that the church two blocks south of the station was on fire.

Response time for Tower One was two minutes. They pulled onto the north side of the street and set up the Tower for attack. Engines 2 and 3 approached from the west side of the building.

In a little over ten minutes there was a backdraft explosion and the roof collapsed. At 23:40, the Keene VFD was paged out for mutual aid from their 100 ft. ladder truck. Before Keene arrived and set up on Brazos Street, just south of the church, the heat became so intense that it began to melt a strobe light and damage hydraulic hoses forcing Cleburne to breakdown and retreat to the side street east of the church. They were unable to set up again until the flames and heat subsided enough to return to their original set up spot.

Cleburne FD had two engines, one tower truck, and 15 fire personnel. The Keene VFD had one ladder truck and one engine and 12 volunteer fire fighters.

The 63 year old church was in the process of having asbestos removed prior to being demolished. The ATF brought an accelerant sniffing dog in on Tuesday. The dog spotted two areas where samples were taken to the lab for testing. The fire is still under investigation for arson.

The Incident Commander called the fire contained at 1:19 the next morning.