Stubborn fire hides in walls of century old church

ALBANY, Ore. - At first, firefighters couldn't locate the fire in the century old 3-story, 75,000 square foot church.

Ten minutes after arriving on scene, they found it: the fire was in the basement. A sprinkler system had held the flames at bay.

Crews set to work fighting the fire only to discover the fire had burned up through spaces in the walls, floors and ceilings.

Firefighters sounded a second alarm, summoning more resources to the scene. Firefighters were concerned that the fire might spread throughout the building through the numerous hidden voids and chases, some of which were found to be open from the basement to the attic of the 101 year old structure, the fire department said.

Firefighters worked to contain the "stubborn fire" by opening up wall, floors and ceiling areas to expose and extinguish the hidden flames, the fire department.

About 94 minutes after they arrived on scene, crews had the fire under control. Firefighters expected to remain on scene for hours to ensure the flames are out.

The fire is under investigation. No one was hurt.

Associate Pastor Mike Mellison reported the fire after responding to the church due to activation of the building's security system.
Mellison noticed a smell of smoke in the building during his investigation and called 911 after hearing the bell for the fire sprinkler system protecting the basement begin to alarm, the fire department said.

All told, 35 fire personnel responded, including personnel from the Corvallis Fire Department, as well as the Lebanon and Tangent Fire Districts.

With that many firefighters tied up, the fire department said off-duty Albany Fire Fighters, fire fighters from the Corvallis Fire Department, and firefighters from the Lebanon and Adair Fire Districts also responded to the city to handle subsequent emergency calls during this incident.