CONCORD, Calif. - Firefighters raced to put out a 2-alarm fire Thursday morning at the Christ Community Church of the Nazarene in Concord.
Flames shot out of windows and smoke filled the sky over one section of the church on 1650 Ashbury Drive.
The fire broke out at about 5:30 Thursday morning. The associate pastor of the church got a wake-up call.
"I was still asleep when my mom saw it on the news. And I've never been woken up with 'get up the church is on fire before," said Associate Pastor Rev. Janelle Maher
The flames and heat pushed firefighters away from inside the church.
"When crews first arrived there was heavy fire involvement in a two-story structure. They attempted to make an interior attack for the first 10-15 minutes. Had to back out to a defensive fire attack due to safety issues," said Assistant Chief Jeff Peter of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
Firefighters were able to keep the fire spreading into the 75-year-old sanctuary. But not before it destroyed the church's old sanctuary, classrooms, and community areas.
"There is a large multi-purpose space downstairs with a kitchen. We've had small group meetings, bible studies, baby showers those kinds of things," said Maher.
The burned-out portion of the church is still too unstable for fire inspectors to go inside. So it's too soon to know how the fire started. They will be looking to see whether any homeless people were using the area for shelter.
"We've had folks come inside without permission at times," said Maher.
The church operates a food pantry every Saturday for those in need. The fire will not disrupt that program.
Sunday worship services will are also expected to go on as planned.
For residents in the area of this scene: Crews will be working with heavy machinery all night removing external walls and rendering the scene safe for further investigation.— Concord Police Dept. (@ConcordPD) May 14, 2021