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Church fire in Waldo neighborhood ruled accidental

KCFD says fire likely started on the roof
Keystone United Methodist Church fire
Waldo church fire
Posted at 11:31 AM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 19:14:40-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just after 11a.m the Kansas City Fire Department responded to a call of a fire at the Keystone United Methodist Church in Waldo at 406 W. 74th Street.

KCFD has ruled that the fire was accidental, and they believe it started on the roof where there was construction was going on.

Attached to the church is the City of Fountains School and everyone inside immediately rushed out. The school should be operational.

Parents were quickly notified about what was going on and were asked to pick up their kids.

"It was a text, a little bit of adrenaline started going but the teachers did a beautiful job of first saying everyone is safe, there’s been a fire, please come get your children," Jenny Hellman, a parent with two children in the school, said. "So to know that everyone was safe kept calm for the drive to get here to school."

Roughly 50 staff and students were inside the pre-K through eighth grade school at the time of the fire.

The church was built in 1908, and those who attend the church or live nearby say it brings up years of memories.

"[The church] has a lot of history here in Waldo, and I just live right here and so it means so much to all of us," Martha McElyea, who lives nearby church, said.

Lead Pastor Ben Bainbridge confirmed the roof was getting worked on and told KSHB 41 News it was only him and another staff member who was inside the church portion of the building.

"Fortunately this happened on a part of the facility that during this time of the week there’s very little activity," Bainbridge said.

Bainbridge is still figuring out the plans for their service this coming Sunday, but he said they will still have service and is grateful the church isn't destroyed.

"It will be something new, a new story in the history of this group of people called Methodists here in Waldo," Bainbridge said.

UPDATE | KSHB 41 News reporter Nick Starling is on the scene of the Waldo neighborhood historic church fire.

Starling said KCFD fire crews have, for the most part, wrapped up their response.

UPDATE |Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Kansas City Field Division are at the scene of the fire.

UPDATE | KCFD said the fire at the church is under control.

A KCFD firefighter said the fire happened in an area that was under construction, and it was contained to the attic above the gym.

All of the preschoolers and church staff are safe.

UPDATE | A KCFD firefighter said between 75 to 100 firefighters responded to the fire at the Keystone United Methodist Church.

The preschool was evacuated, and the parents are being asked to pick up their children. KCFD said the school is fine.

UPDATE | KCFD briefed the media on the church fire in the Waldo neighborhood.

UPDATE | The Keystone United Methodist Church has been in Waldo since 1908, according to their website.

"The Keystone Church in Waldo is a faith community, rooted in the historic Broadway United Methodist Church, reflecting the welcoming Grace of Christ in Waldo and beyond," the church's Facebook page said.

The church is rooted in the historic Broadway United Methodist Church.

UPDATE | Several crews have responded to the church.

As of 11:40 a.m., smoke was coming from part of the church.

EARLIER | Fire crews were called late Monday morning to a reported church fire in Waldo.

The first crews were dispatched out around 11:15 a.m. to Keystone United Methodist Church at 406 W. 74th Street.

This is a developing story and will be updated.