Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

July 25, 2013

Blaze, smoke damage PK church

Mineral Wells Index

— By Libby Cluett

POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE – A fire erupted in the Community Church of Possum Kingdom Lake, Tuesday around 8 p.m., but quick work from PK East and other area volunteer fire departments resulted in containment of flames before they reached the church sanctuary.

PK East VFD Chief Ronnie Ranft said the metal-exterior church building sustained heavy smoke damage, but noted the fire burned mostly in the foyer hallway and kitchen area. The church, located at 251 State HIghway 2353, is about half a mile north of the intersection with Park Road 56, he said.

Firefighters worked fast to control the interior flames in about 45 minutes, Ranft said, adding that crews had to deal with the smoke and heat for much longer.

“They contained the fire pretty quickly, but it took more time and manpower to remove the heavy smoke,” he explained, noting they left the scene around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday.

In addition to PK East, mutual aid came from Mineral Wells, Lone Camp and Graford VFDs, according to Ranft, as well as an emergency medical services class.

The fire produced “lots of heat and smoke,” he said, and required “a lot of manpower” from experienced firefighters, initially, who could work just 10- to 15-minute shifts before requiring rest.

“They had to open walls and ventilate the interior, using fans,” he said. “We started with experienced firefighters and shifted in some new firefighters.”

“The firefighters did an amazing job,” Ranft told the Index, explaining not many church structures survive fires, since many have large, open-air sanctuary spaces.

The fire was controlled before it reached the sanctuary, Ranft noted. He added that although fire went up the ceiling in the foyer, flames “did not penetrate sheetrock anywhere.”

However, he speculates all the church’s insulation and sheet rock will likely have to be replaced because of heavy smoke damage.

“Early detection is pretty much what helped us extinguish this,” Ranft said.

Palo Pinto County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell said the cause of the church fire appears to be  electrical.