Post updated at 11:02 p.m. Monday, July 25:
No injuries were reported after fire damaged a rural Douglas County church Monday afternoon.
The fire at Stull Community of Faith, 1596 East 250 Road, was reported by a neighbor at approximately 1:30 p.m. Monday. Firefighters from Consolidated Fire District No. 1 arrived on scene within minutes and were able to contain the fire to the church’s bell tower.
Chief Mike Baxter said the fire was extinguished by 4 p.m.
“We had some difficulties because it is a confined space up there,” Baxter said. “There is some significant damage to the bell tower area, so they had concerns with some structural instability. It took us a little bit longer and we worked a little slower.”
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office announced at 2:30 p.m. that emergency personnel had closed several hundred feet of North 1600 Road to all traffic while firefighters battled the blaze. The road was reopened before 5:30 p.m.
Built in 1921, the church also suffered water damage at the main entry. Baxter said the cause of the fire and damage estimates wouldn’t be known until an investigation was complete.
Firefighters from multiple nearby agencies including Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical and the Shawnee Heights Fire District responded to provide support to CFD No. 1. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was on scene Monday afternoon investigating the fire.
“Anytime there is a fire at a church the ATF is an automatic,” Baxter said. “It’s a requirement that they come out and do an investigation.”
There was no indication of fire damage to nearby structures. Baxter said it was unclear as of Monday afternoon whether the church would be suitable for services scheduled for 11 a.m. next weekend.
“They’re going to have to survey that to see what they can do for Sunday service,” he said.
Information about the Stull Community of Faith can be found on the church’s website or its Facebook page. The church will hold worship services in its Faith and Friendship Center beginning July 31 until the church can be repaired, according to an email Monday night.