Church to keep on despite fire

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 8, 2002

It started like any other Sundays, recalled the Rev. Timothy Stromas, pastor of the Sandridge Baptist Church on Kings Bend Road.

Stromas said he stood preaching in the pulpit, the children filing in as usual for Sunday School.

The 40-member church saw its usual Sunday morning crowd.

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Suddenly, it all changed. Hours later, during the night, what had once been a typical Sunday, suddenly turned into a disaster, said Stromas.

Stromas first awoke to the sound of the telephone, the voice on the other end telling him his church was ablaze.

On Monday, at 12:57 a.m., Craig Volunteer Fire Department personnel responded to a call at the church.

Fire Department head Stewart Corley said the church was completely ablaze as shades of orange streaked across the midnight sky.

By the time fire personnel finally put the blaze out, the church had been totally destroyed.

Staring at the site where the 75-year-old church once sat, all one can see now are some concrete steps and piles of ashes and smoke.

For Stromas it was like losing a member of his family.

Church Deacon Lorenza Carter said church members were deeply affected by the tragedy.

On Monday, Dallas County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Roy Freine said that the sheriff’s department was investigating the incident and had notified the state fire marshall’s office.

Both Carter and Stromas speculated that the fire could have been caused by arson.

On Saturday, Carter and Stromas said somebody had broken one of the windows at the church. Both men said it looked as though somebody broke the window, possibly to gain entry into the church at a later time.

Stromas said the electricity was also turned off at the church regularly, since the church only had services twice a month. He added that the church didn’t even have a stove, ruling out the possibility of an electrical fire. Asked who he thought may have set fire to the church, Stromas said he didn’t know.

Despite the loss of the church, Stromas said there will be a new church built. For the time being, members will still remain dedicated to their regular worship services &045;&045; even it means finding other forms of shelter.

Stromas said those who wish to make monetary donations to the building of the new church can send their donations to the Craig Credit Union, located at 1111 Highland Ave.