'Suspicious' Fire at Colonial Hills Baptist Church interrupts service

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 10:46am

TYLER — Around 11:30 Sunday morning, the congregation at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Tyler had just settled into their seats to listen to the pastor's sermon.

But this Sunday, something was a little off...

"We were already distracted while he was talking and preaching because everyone kept leaving from the balcony and we kept noticing 'Okay, something's going on' and then when we started to smell it, we kind of knew something was gonna happen. So when someone just came in the back of the church, they shouted, 'There's a fire, everybody needs to leave!' and everybody was really calm about it," said Colonial Hills member Jennifer Jones.

The ironic part is that Tyler fire and rescue officials had already been to Colonial Hills earlier in the morning for a service recognition ceremony.

So when a fire broke out in the men's restroom near the front door of the sanctuary, they had to turn around and come right back.

The City of Tyler's Assistant Fire Marshal says the fire is still being investigated and is currently being called 'suspicious' in nature.

"Pictures have been taken, and there will be some interviews in addition to the ones that have already been performed today," said assistant Fire Marshal Laura Mason.

Colonial Hills Deacon Dennis Hurley helped to hold back the flames with a fire extinguisher.

"Nobody was hurt - no problems, a nice orderly evacuation of the church from what I understand. So, everything went nice and smooth," Hurley said.

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