Mansfield church loses offices, classrooms to blaze

Posted Saturday, Apr. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Pastor Wayne Biggs could only watch as firefighters from Mansfield and Arlington fought to save three decades of his life's work Thursday night.

Fire alarms at the Word of Life Family Church, 2200 U.S. 287, went off at 9:39 p.m., but by the time Mansfield firefighters arrived at 9:44 p.m., flames and smoke were through the roof of the two-story structure, said Mansfield Fire Chief Barry Bondurant.

The 6,000-square-foot building, built in 1996, contained offices and classrooms; the blaze spared the sanctuary,

"Standing on the side of the road [that night], I looked around and saw that so many of the folks had been with us since the beginning," said Biggs, the congregation's pastor since it was organized in Mansfield in 1980. "Most of that building was built with volunteer labor. It was heartbreaking for them."

The two-alarm blaze started in the attic, Bondurant said, but the cause is undetermined. Officials have ruled that the fire was accidental, said Fire Marshal Clay Cawood.

"There's so much wiring around there," Bondurant said.

Damage was estimated at $500,000, he said.

The city has cleared the 175-member church to hold Sunday services in the attached sanctuary, which was built in 2006, Biggs said. The 13,000-square-foot sanctuary had some smoke and water damage, but restoration crews have worked for the past two days to prepare the building for Word of Life's 10:30 a.m. church service and 6:30 p.m. prayer service today. A fire wall between the two buildings helped save the sanctuary, Bondurant said.

The pastor had just left the building at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, he said.

"I was on the ground floor, getting ready for the ladies to paint the next day," Biggs said. "I didn't notice anything.

"It's been a tough couple of days," Biggs said. "Something good is going to come out of this. God is good."

Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451

Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM

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