Electrical fire severely damages historic church – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
The fire that severely damaged a historic church in Prosper on Tuesday afternoon began with an electrical fire in the building’s air conditioning system, fire investigators said Wednesday.
It happened around 1.45pm inside the First Presbyterian Church of Prosper in the 400 block of South Coleman Street.
Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from the building. They worked quickly to put it out, but the damage to the historic property was already done.
“We’re optimistic, but we’re really saddened by the loss of the memories here. But overall, God is in charge and God isn’t done with us and God will lead us to where we need to be,” John said. Fowler, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Prosper.
In front of the church is a historical marker indicating that the church was organized on July 7, 1978. In 1982 the building was constructed in the community of Rock Hill, but was moved in 1896 and changed to Rock Presbyterian Church Hill Cumberland. It was moved to Prosper in 1902 and has been extended since then.
Prosper firefighters are investigating what caused a fire Tuesday inside a historic church.
The Texas Historical Commission named the church a historic landmark in 2012.
“We’ve seen a lot of births, a lot of deaths and that kind of stuff, and it’s such a historic place,” said Martha Hammers, who has been a member for 20 years.
On Wednesday, she thought back to all the memories of church, even before she started attending.
“The windows all have dedications to certain people and the families have probably been here for a while, the families are all dead,” she described.
“There was an old Bible inside that was sitting in front of the pulpit,” she said. “My favorite thing they have is the nativity scene, it’s the ceramic figurines and we put it up every Christmas.”
She spoke of two-foot pump organs that were inside, of documents and pictures that may be damaged.
“I’m just praying that something can be saved,” she said.
Fortunately, no one was injured, but the fate of the building is unknown.
“It’s as if an old friend had died. It’s really sad,” Hammers said.
“It’s important and serious. Maybe the building will be a total loss, maybe not,” Fowler said.
Before the official cause of the fire is revealed, the pastor has his own idea of who was behind it.
“We’ve ticked off Satan one too many times to burn down the house,” he said.
Fowler said they are relying on faith to guide them through the next steps.
“Most important, listen to the Holy Spirit and tell us what to do what we need to do next because we are not here just to be here, we are here because God has called us to be in this church and this time and place and God has called us with a ministry and a mission and it doesn’t stop,” Fowler said. “It’s about people and what God has called us to do.
He said services would continue on Sunday, although they would be virtual only. Fowler said the pandemic prepared them for this.
“If there’s good news, there’s always light in the dark,” Fowler said.
Prosper Town Mayor David Bristol released the following statement.
“The town of Prosper mourns the news of yesterday’s fire at the historic First Presbyterian Church in Prosper. This iconic landmark in downtown Prosper served as a gathering place and place of worship for over 120 years for many members of the Prosper community. I am grateful for the quick response from Prosper Fire Rescue and everyone involved for their efforts to put out the fire and save the church from further devastation. We are a strong community built on our faith and resilience and I am certain that members of the Prosper church and community will continue to move forward, even through this historic tragedy.