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Oklahoma Fire Marshal Makes Determination in Duncan Church Fire

<br>The Feb. 18 fire destroyed the Foursquare Gospel Church in Duncan.

Oklahoma's fire marshal ruled last Monday's fire at Foursquare Gospel Church as accidental.

He says natural gas was leaking from copper tubing inside the building.

The tubing was installed back in 1927 and officials say it deteriorated over time.

The natural gas from that tubing built up and came in contact with fire from the church's furnace.

It destroyed the building as well as memories that date back almost 100 years.

Toby Clark, the church's senior pastor, says,

"From quite a ways away, I could see the smoke. I was kind of panicking."

Dedicated members of the congregation attended church in that building for nearly a decade.

Joann Sellers, a representative with the Oklahoma Fire Marshal's Office, says, "This fire started in the area of the gas furnace and developed into the mechanical room and then through the roof. Due to the high winds and the gravel and tar roof, once the fire started developing further, it spread throughout the entire church area and it was a total loss."

Clark and his family live in the home next to the church, six feet away from the burned building.

His home sustained heavy smoke and water damage and the eaves were broken.

He and his family have been displaced since.

"I couldn't get anything out of the church. All I could do was get stuff out of the house; important papers, picture. Thank God the house is still standing," Clark says.

But the firefighters did find something...

"The firefighters, as they were sorting through things, found a nativity scene made out of porcelain that was still in tact. There were quite a few pieces. They pulled that out and set it up so everybody could see it," Clark says.

He says his main concern was that nobody was in the church, which was built in 1922.

Miraculously, no one was, and no injuries were reported.

The Foursquare Gospel Church congregation had already moved to a new church building when the church off 5th St. went up in flames.

Much of the church's property was still in the building and is now reduced to ash.

Investigators say the building is a total loss and estimate the damage at about $180-thousand.

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