MCKINNEY, Texas — Investigators are trying to determine what caused a fire that damaged a church, a neighboring home and a restaurant in the City of McKinney on Monday.
“I went out and the south corner of the church was on fire,” said Rodney McDaniel.
Neighbors described the damage left after the fire ripped through New Outreach Church of God in Christ on Wilcox Street as devastating.
The fire then spread to a nearby house. A spokesperson from the McKinney Fire Department said an adult and children who lived at the house were able to get out unharmed.
“The winds was blowing extremely hard and it was pushing everything to the north,” said McDaniel.
Families in McKinney’s historic Wilcox neighborhood said they are stunned the fire also destroyed a Chicken Express restaurant one block away. The ceiling and roof in that building collapsed, its windows are busted, and everything at the business is burned.
“I grabbed my wife and my kid, and I got them out of the house as fast as I could,” said neighbor Christian Tapia.
Tapia's home sits between the buildings.
Firefighters said the response escalated to the equivalent of a three-alarm fire.
“It was engulfed in flames,” described Tapia.
Neighbors watched as crews from surrounding cities rushed to the area to help put out the fire.
“I woke everybody up and was worried about it,” said McDaniel.
Several witnesses described watching embers and ash flying from the church toward other structures.
Tapia said he used a water hose to wet down his home after a fence caught fire.
“It’s real devastating because this is a real old, old, community,” said McDaniel.
The fire remains under investigation.
A Facebook message New Outreach Church of God In Christ posted on Monday said, “Father GOD we are seeking YOU for direction during the loss of our church. Bless us to come together stronger!”
Neighbors are describing New Outreach COGIC as a strong church. They believe members will plan to rebuild.