North Texas

Denton Church Races to Rebuild from Arson

Members at the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship are trying to rebuild in time for one of their biggest nights of the year, after someone set fire to their church just days ago.

Last Wednesday morning the Rev. Pamela Wat said she arrived at the church on Cordell Street to find smoke pouring out of the building as she opened the door.

Firefighters quickly put out several fires that had been started throughout the classrooms, fellowship hall and sanctuary of the building.

Denton Fire Department spokesman Kenneth Hedges said the case is still open, but investigators did arrest a juvenile on non-related charges who is also being considered a person of interest in the church fires.

Wat said they don't believe the church was particularly targeted for the fires but that they are now trying to deal with the damage fast.

She estimates thousands of dollars in smoke and fire damage was done to the building as well as the numerous items lost in the blaze; some irreplaceable creations by members past and present.
"It's hard. It's sad to let those go," said Wat.

The church does have insurance, but she's not sure how much of the fire it will cover.

More pressing, though, is the upcoming holiday.

The neighboring First Christian Church is giving the fellowship and it's 200-plus members space for weekly services while they fix the mess, but they've got their own Christmas Eve celebrations to handle.

So, several specialists as well as other volunteers are working through the week to get the Unitarian church's sanctuary fixed up in time for Thursday night.

As of Monday afternoon, the room was being primed and the fire damage in that room was all but gone.

Other rooms in the building, including the classrooms, could take months to fix, said Wat.

For now she said the congregation is most thankful no one was hurt in the blaze and that the building itself is not a loss; adding that they're also heartbroken for whoever set the fire, resorting to crime like this.

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