CRESTVIEW — The Florida Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire that consumed Full Gospel Tabernacle Church on Wednesday.
Most of the structure's surrounding brick walls at 602 8th Ave. remain standing, but the blaze ruined everything else. Fire officials estimate the total damage at $400,000.
The Rev. Steve Bolton and several church members stood near what was left of their church the morning after the fire. Bolton said he and nearly 10 members were inside the building the prior evening, before a regular evening service.
At about 6:45 p.m., he and other members heard a pop toward the building’s south end, near the electrical utility box. Electrical power loss followed, and everyone inside the building moved outside due to the air conditioning loss.
Before church officials could contact the building's maintenance worker, they noticed smoke leaving the building, and immediately called 911.
Several units from local fire departments ─including the Crestview and North Okaloosa fire departments, and fire crews from Baker, Holt, Dorcas, Almarante and Eglin ─responded and eventually extinguished the flames.
Firefighters stayed at the location into the early morning hours to ensure all flames were extinguished.
"The important thing is everyone is safe," Bolton said. "Now, we are going to start over."
The building was fully insured, he said.
"Everybody is saddened, but they are hopeful that we can rebuild," Bolton said.
In the meantime, local churches have offered their help.
"I had several pastors contact me and offer their buildings (for services)," Bolton said. "A lot of the community has reached out, and we appreciate that."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.