Several people were rescued from a fire early Wednesday at an abandoned South Fort Worth church building, authorities say.
Mike Drivdahl with the Fort Worth Fire Department said the fire was ignited on the second floor of an abandoned annex near the South Fort Worth Baptist Church.
Fire crews responded around 3 a.m. Wednesday.
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"In total, there were five people that we rescued," Drivdahl said. "At the time the fire started, there were six people inside the building. One of those people were able to get outside themselves before we got on the scene."
All six are believed to be homeless and were using the building to stay warm, according to Drivdahl.
"Our fires do increase during the winter time. I don’t know the statistics on which ones of those would be caused by people keeping themselves warm inside of a building, but there is an increase in fire activity," he said. "Our crews were quickly able to get into action. They laddered the building with extension ladders, and they were able to rescue those people from the second floor."
Myra Garcia lives behind the church with her daughter. She said she's glad the the fire wasn't more destructive than it was.
"It’s been empty for about four years now," Garcia said.
The building has caught fire before in the past, according to Garcia. Fort Worth fire officials confirmed their crews responded to a fire earlier this year, though details of the exact circumstances were not available Wednesday.
Garcia told NBC 5 she received a letter from the city notifying her of an upcoming public hearing before the Fort Worth zoning commission and city council on Dec. 11 and Jan. 14, respectively. The public hearing is regarding the South Fort Worth Baptist Church, according to the notice.
"We’re trying to go to that meeting to see if they can just do anything about it or try to keep the homeless out of there," Garcia said. "I’ve actually found two people in my garage but once they saw us, they ran out."
All six people from Wednesday's fire refused medical care, according to the fire department. The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.