Fire guts popular family center at Ark Church

By on October 3, 2012

Ark Church fire

A firefighter on a ladder truck trained water on the roof of the building. (Rob Morris)

Fire gutted the Family Center of the Ark Church in Nags Head Oct. 4.

Flames shot from the west side of the building. (Rob Morris)

A fire burning overnight Wednesday and Thursday gutted the Family Life Center at the Ark International Church in Nags Head.

Thursday morning, passersby stopped at the smoldering shell of the center to mourn the loss of another community resource, where families roller skated and rec leagues played basketball for many years, Nags Head Fire Chief Kevin Zorc said.

The fire follows this weekend’s closing of the Nags Head Bowling Center a mile or so north up U.S. 158.

Flames glowed inside. (Rob Morris)

The first call came at about 8:20 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters spent the next few hours pouring water on the roof and the outside walls of the building. They trained a hose on the front entryway, one of the few openings in the mostly enclosed metal structure.

Flames shot from second-story windows on the west side and could be seen through a doorway on the east side glowing inside.

Heavy smoke poured from the building as crews from at least a half dozen fire departments fought the blaze under the glare of floodlights.

The metal building made fighting the fire difficult. As midnight approached, fire crews considered using a Public Works backhoe to punch a hole in one of the walls to get more water inside, said Town Manager Cliff Ogburn, but they abandoned the idea as too dangerous.

Capt. John Harris and Town Manager Cliff Ogburn look at the damage. Commissioner Doug Remaley is on the left. (Rob Morris)

That left them to wait for the fire inside to create its own openings. Paint was melting on the north wall and spots in the metal began to glow.

Zorc said Thursday morning that crews were putting out some hots pots as the building still smoldered. The center, which he estimated was around 30 years old, was a total loss.

The cause is being investigated, he said. Nobody was hurt.

The Family Life Center is a separate building from the church. Over the years it has been a community gathering spot for basketball and roller skating. It also included a kitchen, meeting space and upstairs classrooms.

Departments from Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Colington, Roanoke Island, Kitty Hawk and Lower Currituck were involved in battling the blaze.

The Family Life Center at the Ark Church on the Outer Banks was a total loss.

The building was a total loss. (Rob Morris)

Compiled by Rob Morris and Sam Walker.

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