The fire moved quickly. GFD arrived four minutes after the initial call and began an aggressive battle against the fire, however less than 20 minutes after it began, the roof of the sanctuary collapsed.
Firefighters were inside the sanctuary minutes before the roof fell in, but were ordered to evacuate due to falling debris. As the fire continued, more companies were called in, resulting in a three alarm fire with 60 firefighters and 15 companies battling the blaze.
Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, it appears that the fire began in the attic. The attic was used as a storage area.
"There was a heavy fire load in the attic of costumes and wood," Frawley said.
Church members along with community neighbors stood and watched firefighters battle the blaze. Most interviewed knew that the church could not be saved but were concerned about the surrounding homes and apartments. A resident who lived across the street from the church began watering down her roof and cars as the smoke from the church covered her front yard.
"My two and a half year old son can't breathe," said the resident.
With fire hoses crossing the edge of her driveway, she was unable to leave. She took her son over to a neighbor's and waited for her husband to arrive. She was visibly worried as flames continued to flare from the church's windows.
Cell phone cameras were being used up and down the lines by onlookers as firefighters got the upper hand, seeming to make progress in the fight, only to have the fire flare in another area of the church.
The following morning found the church still smoldering and the sanctuary in rubble. The school adjacent to the church survived the fire but had severe water and smoke damage.