Church heavily damaged in July 4th blaze

-A A +A
By John Severance

It took close to three hours Wednesday but the Los Alamos Fire Department extinguished a major fire at New Beginnings Fellowship Assembly of God Church at 112 East Road.


Deputy fire chief Justin Grider confirmed the fire was out around 1 p.m. It looked as if the fire was out earlier but LAFD was contending with hotspots in the rafters of the chapel.

Grider said the chapel is a total loss. The main church received smoke damage. There also was an area in the back of the church that burned and received significant smoke damage.

“We think the fire started in the chapel,” Grider said. “But we don't know for sure. It is still under investigation.”

Grider said there were a couple of investigators on the scene, including the State Fire Marshal.

“We are checking the structural integrity so its safe enough for the investigators to check out what happened,” Grider said.

Grider added tonight that the investigators will work until dark and likely continue work Thursday. "They go from end of the church to the other," hesaid.

Grider expects the investigation to last a couple of days because it is a church or a house of worship. "We have to check everything."

The original 911 call was made at 10:22 a.m. and LAFD was on the scene a minute later because one of its stations was across the street.

Grider said the fire spread to the hallway separating the church and the chapel and “that is where we made the stop.”

If the fire had gotten into the church and into the rafters and the floor boards, “it would have been a different story. There was a lot of heat. There was some darn good firefighting and they knocked it out of the (park).”

The call came in around 10:15 a.m. and LAFD was on the scene within minutes. Crews came from across the street and crews came down Trinity Drive with sirens blaring.

Some of the LAFD and LAPD personnel, meanwhile, were in White Rock, taking part in a softball game.

Grider was in White Rock but was talking to food vendors and handing out permits to get their grills going as they got ready for the Fourth of July celebration at Overlook Park this afternoon

Grider heard about the blaze and raced up N.M. 502 from White Rock and he saw the plume of smoke.

“I said to myself, they really have a cooker there,” Grider said.

Soon, fire chief Troy Hughes was on the scene as was LAPD captain Randy Foster. Both were wearing their softball gear.

Grider said there were no injuries and everybody was out safely after an initial investigation.

Despite the multitude of LAPD and LAFD vehicles on the scene, traffic was open in both directions on East Road. LAPD was monitoring traffic flow.

Grider said historically in fires like this, “It’s a firefighter killer. There are vast open spaces that are hard to contain. Our guys did a great job keeping the fire contained.”

It looked as if the fire was out in the chapel after about 30 minutes.

But it wasn’t.

Crews got on ladders and opened the roof and the side of the structure and smoke began billowing out.

One firefighter said, “It totally flamed up again.”

Crews, though, trained their hoses on the blaze and soon it was out. But they were still on the scene, looking for hotspots.

Near the end of the ordeal, a man in a white jacket carried a tray of watermelon to the firefighters.

Grider said, in all, there were 24 LAFD personnel fighting the blaze.

Grider reported one minor injury where a firefighter was hit in the shin by a hose cupling. "Those things weigh 20 to 30 pounds and they are made of aluminum. This one fell of the truck and hit him the shin. He went to the hospital as a precaution and was treated and released. I think his ankle was bruised."

According to its website, NBF has three primary components that encompass all ministries: 
Evangelism, Discipleship, and 
Community Involvement.

There are six main ministries:
Men, Women, Children, Youth, Young Adult, and Senior Adult

These ministries focus on four key elements that make up our core:
Worship, Prayer, Teaching, and Fellowship

Watch for more details as they become available.