| Fort Myers News-Press
A Fort Myers Baptist church now sits in ruin, boarded up and awaiting demolition after a fire in the ceiling last week caused massive damage.
On Feb. 12, Pastor Dwight Williams was at MorningStar Baptist Church on Richmond Avenue replacing a deadbolt on a door as his son sat in his church office doing his school work.
Two others involved with the Fort Myers church were working on the grounds, preparing them for Sunday’s service.
One of the people outside came running in to tell Williams there was a fire. It had just started, but already tiles were falling. Within minutes the ridge line of the roof was engulfed.
They called 911, and Williams ran back to try to unlock the door to help fire crews when they arrived, but his keys didn’t work.
Tice Fire Department arrived about 2:30 p.m. and battled the fire, which has left the church a total loss.
When crews arrived the fire appeared to be in the top front of the building near the front entrance, but the building has been deemed unsafe to enter and unsafe to do an investigation, Battalion Chief Rob Morgan said.
It took about two hours to control the fire and no one was injured, he said.
The church has since been boarded up and will have to be demolished. Williams is looking into demolition quotes.
Thankfully, the buildings behind the church were not damaged and they have been able to use the fellowship hall as a place to hold church, which has about 30 consistent congregants.
After the fire, many churches of all denominations in the area reached out and helped by way of donations and even helping clean up the night of the fire and help moving meat freezers so the church could continue its food pantry.
MorningStar’s major ministry is its food pantry, and they feed about 140 families a month.
Congregants have been overwhelmed with love and support from the community, Williams said.
“When crisis happens, the denominational barriers disappear and we are just brothers and sisters in Christ to help each other,” he said.
Williams doesn’t believe that they will rebuild anytime soon, but they hope that they can save the cement slab as foundation to put in a community basketball court so they could have a community park.