WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A fire damaged a church in south Wichita early Monday morning.
Fire crews were called to Nu Heart-Nu Start Ministries just before 2:30 a.m. for a report of a building fire in the 2000 block of W. Jewell.
First responders found heavy flames coming from the back of the church.
“Crews had the fire knocked down relatively quickly. Truck companies went to the roof and vertically ventilated the building to clear the toxic smoke and gas to assist with the primary search,” said Battalion Chief Matt Bowen.
The fire department says the fire caused about $75,000 worth of damage to the church, but Pastor Larcena Gilmore-Williams remains positive. She says when a door closes, a window opens. She is thankful no one was hurt.
Pastor Gilmore-Williams woke up to a message from her security system provider early Monday morning saying there was a break-in, which wasn’t unusual.
“We’ve had a lot of broken windows, children mostly,” Pastor Gilmore-Williams said. “We have a lot of people that wander through between the churches, between this back alleyway over here. So, I called one of the members of the church and met over here.”
But, when she got to the church, it wasn’t the break-in she expected.
“To my surprise, when I turned the corner, it was lit up, fire trucks all around,” Pastor Gilmore-Williams said. “I don’t remember seeing that many fire trucks in one place.”
The Wichita Fire Department says it doesn’t appear anyone broke in.
Inside the church, nearly everything was ruined by either the fire or water.
“It’s total devastation, but we give praise to God that no lives were lost,” Pastor Gilmore-Williams said.
Nu Heart-Nu Start Ministries rents the church building. A church next door has already offered its space for services until they figure out what to do next.
The Wichita Fire Department is working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to determine the cause of the fire. Working with the ATF is standard with a church fire.
Pastor Gilmore-Williams says they see this as a new start.
“We trust God,” Pastor Gilmore-Williams said. “He’s kept us this many years, and He’s never failed us. So he’s not gonna fail us now. So this isn’t a setback. To me, it’s a setup.”