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Historic church fire ruled accidental
BEAUMONT-BY: Jennifer Gordy
The cause of Monday night's fire at the First Baptist Church in Orange has been ruled accidental. Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Ziller says investigators are still trying to pinpoint a cause, but the damage caused to the century old structure is minimal. The building is in the process of being renovated. A passerby saw flames coming from the dome of the old First Baptist Church just after 11 last night. That call and the quick response by firefighters may have saved the building from ruin.
Firefighters responded to the old First Baptist church at the corner of Fifth and Green Avenue to find flames shooting through the domed roof which is currently under construction. The fire was quickly extinguished.
Theres so many things in Orange that have been destroyed, says Sharon Walston. Walston is a life-long resident and has watched hurricanes and time take their toll on the historical buildings in her city and is thankful this one was spared.
The 100 year old structure was left with minimal fire and water damage according to the Communications Manager for the Stark Foundation. The Foundation acquired the church last spring after the congregation of First Baptist Church moved to a new location.
The Stark Foundation recently began renovations for its future Center for Stark Cultural venues. Stark Foundation Communications Manager Ellen Welker says, The Stark Cultural Learning Center will be housed here for educational purposes, classes, workshops all kinds of education that will support our Stark Museum of Art, Shangri La Gardens, and the W. H. Stark House. Welker says most importantly, the Foundation is thankful there were no injuries and the structure was spared.
We believe in the community of Orange. We believe in keeping as much history as you can tell by our W. H. Stark House.
Deputy Chief Ziller says the Foundation may resume construction.