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'It just breaks my heart': Nearly century-old Johnson County church catches fire

First Baptist Church fire
Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 23:41:28-05

MISSION, Kan. — The First Baptist Church of Mission caught fire a little before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in Johnson County.

Officials with Consolidated Fire District 2 said crews responded and saw heavy smoke billowing out of the attic. It took about 45 firefighters to battle the flames.

"Anytime you deal with a fire that’s like this, the smoke lays low," Steve Chick, deputy chief of operations for Consolidated Fire District 2, said. "It take a lot of resources."

The fire was contained to the north part of the church complex and never reached the nearly century-old sanctuary, but flames continued to burn for several hours. There were no injuries reported.

"Anytime you have a fire in an attic like this, they’re just hard to get to, especially when the attic was so involved like it was when we arrived," Chick said. "Its just not safe to put firefighters underneath that roof, so we have to work on it from the outside and there’s limited amount of stuff we can get to until it comes in."

Neighbors near the church expressed disbelief.

"It just makes you sick," neighbor Derek Moore said. "You just hope they can save the history at this point."

Neighbor Eric Leonardelli also was saddened by the fire: "It just breaks my heart to see this happen to a great church in a great area."

Chick said the north part of the church annex is a total loss, but the older section where the sanctuary was spared.

"It’s very sad," neighbor Dana Lowry said. "They’re doing a great job, but I’m thankful it seems to be contained to one side of the church."

Fire crews worked into the night and were concerned about collapse zones.

The Kansas State Fire Marshall will investigate the cause of the blaze, but preliminary indications do not reveal anything suspicious.