Pensacola News Journal

Church building saved from fire

Cause of blaze likely electrical, firefighter says
Sean Smith

Myrtle Grove volunteer firefighters quickly snuffed a fire before it could do serious damage to a Little Flower Catholic Church office building on Sunday.

Firefighters arrived in one minute from the nearby station after a passerby noticed smoke seeping through the roof vents in the church building, which is located in the 6400 block of Lillian Highway. Firefighters arrived at 3:06 p.m. and contained the fire to the attic, said Capt. Germel Banks of Myrtle Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

A group of the volunteer firefighters were at the nearby station and able to respond immediately, Banks said.

The fire, which caused about $5,000 damage to the the church office building, is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office. Banks said evidence points to an electrical source.

Flames started in the kitchen and swept through the attic, but firefighters had the fire under control in less than 20 minutes, Banks said.

"Thanks be to God for their response," said Father Martin Holley, pastor of Little Flower Catholic Church. "They went right to it and saved the building. Everything is fine except for smoke damage."

Volunteer firefighters from West Pensacola and Warrington stations responded as well. There were no injuries.

"We were able to get a handle on it quickly," Banks said.

Holley said he had noticed a pungent smell after he returned from a morning Mass about noon. He checked the fuse box and found no signs of trouble, he said.

A lightning strike rattled the church during his morning service, he said.

"I was about to call the fire department and ask them to check it out, but I didn't see anything," Holley said. "Then I got a call from my neighbors who said the building was on fire. We're fortunate there wasn't more damage."