‘The Lord was here': Firefighters save church sanctuary in 6-alarm East Oak Cliff fire

Crews were rotated every 15 minutes through cooling stations and an air-conditioned DART bus that was brought on-site to provide some relief in triple-digit temperatures

NBC Universal, Inc.

The clean-up continues after a massive fire nearly destroyed a church in East Oak Cliff.

On Tuesday afternoon, Dallas Fire-Rescue battled the 6-alarm fire at the Saintsville Sanctuary Church of God in Christ located at 2200 South Marsalis Avenue.

"It's just awful and I pray they find out how it started,” said longtime church member, Mabel King. "I've been coming here for many years to this church."

King stopped by the church on Wednesday to see it for herself.

"It makes my heart sad for something like this to happen to God's house. But it's going to be alright,” she said.

Throughout the day, church members stopped by to see the partially charred remains of a church that served as a place of peace for so many.

"I mean, I was just tearful and stood there myself in just disbelief,” said Tammy Robertson, who has attended the church throughout most of her life. “You know, our memories of state convocations, marriages, funerals – we have just come here all over our lives. We've been a part of the Church of God in Christ and it was just sad.”

But the miracle being celebrated now is the fact the sanctuary was saved from the flames. A large portion of the church sustained water damage but is intact and spared from the main part of the fire.

“That was a blessing. That was a blessing from God,” said King.

"The Lord was here. The Lord was here and thank God the sanctuary is still standing,” said Robertson.

Workers spent Wednesday on the site boarding up open areas to keep the property secure. Another church leader was on site assessing the damage throughout the day.

The church bishop told NBC 5 in a phone call that insurance should be able to cover the cost of damage and at this time there is no request for community assistance. However, a link at the top of the church website asks for donations for church restoration.

On Tuesday afternoon, Texas Skyranger captured huge flames and smoke pouring out of the now-collapsed roof on a portion of the property. According to the fire officials, 150 firefighters and 30 engines responded to the scene.

"When we escalated it from 2nd 3rd and then 6-alarm, we were recording 112 degrees on the street level there,” said Dallas Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Scott Clumpner.

Crews were rotated every 15 minutes through cooling stations and an air-conditioned DART bus that was brought on-site to provide some relief in triple-digit temperatures.

It’s just part of what has become one of the toughest jobs throughout the Texas heat.

"We appreciate the hard work of our people,” said Clumpner. "It wears down on you, so we really push hard for our folks to stay hydrated, eat properly and take rest breaks in between calls."

Despite the challenges and total damage to a fellowship area and classrooms, the firefighters were able to save most of the church.

"It's a testament to our folks and their dedication to the job in not only saving lives but property,” said Clumpner. “Churches mean a lot to the community so to be able to save something that is a community center point, and especially the main sanctuary – I think meant a lot not only to the community but to our people."

Officials said the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. No one was injured and they don't believe anyone was inside when the fire started.

"The thing we can do is just pray. Just pray and keep our faith in God,” said King. "He's always with us. Through the bad times and the good times."

Contact Us