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Trinity Baptist Church fire

Lawton_The call to Lawton Fire Department Tuesday morning proved to be more critical than routine as more than two dozen firefighters responded to Trinity Baptist Church near 18th and West Gore.  It took some two hours for the 30 firefighters to put out the blaze caused millions of dollars worth of damage and may have effected the building's structure. 

The church secretary who was the only one in the building, noted the heavy smoke smell on her arrival at work and safely escaped the structure, calling 9-1-1.  As he was leaving home about 9 a.m., Pastor Gene Escoe said he got her call about the church fire that quickly consumed the sanctuary and choir room.   

Assistant Lawton Fire Chief Lonnie London who was one of the first on the fire scene said, "Frankly, I'm surprised it's still standing.  I would have bet 30 minutes into it that we'd be looking at a foundation." He says the blaze caused $3-4 million dollars in damage. Firefighters had a challenge getting the fire under control "'You don't want to put water in from the outside while you've got guys on the  inside ‘cause you'll push the fire back on them." A crack started to develop from the inside out causing concern.  "We've got a metal structure inside which is different because metal expands differently that wood or brick...That's what caused that crack.  We've got a metal wall in there and it pushed that out."  Burning metal caused flames shooting out of the top of the structure to turn green.

Fire Chief Bart Hadley says it started on the west end of the church, moving toward the sanctuary. "We did have some chandeliers in the sanctuary area where part of the roof is coming in." There was lots of smoke damage throughout the building, fire damage in the main sanctuary, choir section and in the back area of the building. The cause remains under investigation.  

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