A fire that broke out at the Peaceful Baptist Church on Thursday was under control as of 4:40 p.m., a Denton Fire Department spokesperson said, but firefighters were expected to be at the scene for hours to be safe.
A cause isn’t yet known as firefighters were still working to put it out after a 911 call came in at 2:42 p.m. Battalion Chief David Boots, a spokesperson for the department, said they don’t know yet if anyone was inside the church at 407 N. Crawford St. and added no one had run out.
Albert Jackson, a deacon at the church, said his wife got a call from a friend about a possible fire at the church.
“No one’s been here through the week,” Jackson said. “Thank God there wasn’t nobody here.”
It was all hands on deck as 14 units from the department were at the scene, including two ladder fire engines shooting water into the building from above.
“We had to call it a two-alarm fire pretty quickly because of the size of the structure,” Boots said. “Large structures and old structures have been added onto several times [over the years], so through the back structure, it’s different than the front structure. It makes for a problem because you get stuff that’s built up and compartmentalized. So you think you’re getting [the fire] from the top, when really there’s a hidden fire and another root layer underneath.”
At this point the fire’s been going for at least an hour. The pastor is on his way up from Fort Worth. DFD spox said they quickly had to declare the fire a two-alarm fire to get more resources out here. There are two ladder engines shooting water up through the attic. #dentonrc pic.twitter.com/zL03xbPpSx— Zaira Perez 🇲🇽 (@zairalperez) February 25, 2021
North Bradshaw Street was closed off by the Denton Police Department while the Fire Department tried to put out the flames from different angles of the building.
Jackson said the church building is largely empty as they’re hosting virtual services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was at the grocery store when my wife called me,” he said. “A friend of hers was driving by, and she said, ‘I think y’alls church is on fire.’”
Jackson said he then rushed over.
Smoke from the fire had dissipated around 4 p.m. As Denton Fire worked to put out the flames, Boots said agencies from across the county were helping pick up other calls coming in around the city.
Julian Blas, the owner of Los Gallos Restaurante, watched the fire from outside his restaurant on the corner of North Bradshaw Street and East McKinney Street.
“I came outside to throw out the trash, and I saw the smoke,” Blas said in Spanish. “I thought maybe it was from a chimney, but I didn’t see a chimney. The smoke was [dark], and I thought to myself, this isn’t normal smoke. … It’s grave.”
The fire was under control by 5 p.m., Boots said.
“The fire is dying down, but we’re going to be here for hours doing overhaul into the night,” he said.