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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October 29, 2012 11:33 am

Maybe the church will consider installing a monitored fire alarm & sprinkler system this time…


October 8, 2012 8:41 pm

It so sad to see the Ark youth center gone. I have lived on the beach for 37 years. I spent a many of nights with my friends there skating. I actually have a great group picture of all of us outside the door there at the Ark. I skated there almost thirty years ago. Its so hard to believe. I have an eight year old son that has even skated there. I played coed volleyball there for may years. All the Ark asked of us was to donate if we could to help pay the power bill. What a wonderful place that will be missed by all.

Pam Thomas

October 8, 2012 12:39 pm

I say a HUGE yes to Bob Samuel’s idea. The whole Outer Banks area could and would benefit from this type of land use.

William S Cook

October 6, 2012 4:48 pm

Who is Jason that provided the excellent rebroadcast of the audio of responders?


October 5, 2012 2:34 pm

Yes!!! What Bob said! The possibilities would be endless with some sort of rec center and as for playing co-ed ball down here for the past 10 years – batting cages would be awesome!!


October 5, 2012 7:01 am

This is just terrible. Just last week I went skating there, not even thinking it was my last time. I can’t believe it’s actually gone.


October 4, 2012 7:43 pm

Here is the firegound audio if anyone is interested. Recording starts at 8:20 until 2am, appx 40MB.

Bob Samuels

October 4, 2012 6:40 pm

This is tragic. The kids need somewhere safe and wholesome place to hang with their friends. The town of Nags Head or county needs to purchase the former Dowdy’s lot and utilize that space. Build a multi-use, multi generational rec center and some ball fields of some sort. Maybe incorporate a picnic area and public bathrooms as well. Generate some money by adding some batting cages – who knows – the possibilities are endless. In any event, we need to come together to help the youth our community.


October 4, 2012 11:27 am

So sad – my kids loved rollerskating there – the best was the color game! what a bummer, hope they can rebuild it.


October 4, 2012 10:45 am

I can’t wait to see what I can do to help build another center – so many good memories playing b-ball there.

Teresa J

October 4, 2012 10:00 am

How do I tell my daughter about this awful tragedy? She and her friends have loved skating there on Friday nights for years. I am so saddened to hear this and am hoping for a new and better building for our community in the very near future. My heart goes out to the Ark Church.

wayne rodman

October 4, 2012 9:35 am

The Ark was always there for the community now its time the community helps the Ark!First Flight Ballers AAU team will be happy to volunteer for any and all help rebuilding!Jim so glad no one was hurt please call on us when you need us-we are ready to go!!!


October 4, 2012 8:57 am

My heart goes out to the congregation and anyone that uses the gym.

I know it’s not the same but on Tues and Thurs Manteo Baptist opens it’s rec center to the public. It’s a very nice gym, set up for basketball, corn hole, volleyball, etc. Atleast the youth can have something to do while the Arc can figure out something.

Sharon Boze

October 4, 2012 8:35 am

This is such a tragedy. I have faith the community will come together to rebuild this wonderful establishment and ban together to make it even better. I am a former resident (10 years) of the OBX. I am concerned that our youth there are losing their options for good, family-oriented activities. I am praying the Bowling Center will stay in place. Our children need that, and they need the Ark back, too. I am relieved no one was injured, and I salute the valiant efforts of all of the island’s fearless emergency responders.


October 4, 2012 7:59 am

We built the FLC in five months beginning in late 1986. Hopefully we can do that again.


October 4, 2012 6:59 am

Very sad ,I truly pray somthing BRIGHTER & BETTER will rise from the ashes!

Melanie J.Jones

October 4, 2012 6:52 am

I use too take my little girls there 18 yrs. ago, May God be with everyone. So sad hurts my heart.


October 4, 2012 2:51 am

Great effort from all six fire departments responding. The church will rebuild the Family Life Center better than before!

Thankfully no firefighters were injured in the effort.


October 4, 2012 1:23 am

I’m 27 years old and grew up on the Outer Banks. Still live here actually, and witnessed the devastation when I came home from work tonight. I don’t have a lot of memories from childhood, but a vast majority of them are from the Ark. I loved rollerskating there, and even more playing rec basketball there. I was also in a little league bowling league at the bowling alley. It is so sad to see both of them go within a weekend. I loved my time at both, specifically to the Ark I had so much fun playing basketball there. I never attended church there but I was always grateful they donated their facilities to us. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have a place to play and I wouldn’t have the great memories of rec league basketball. I’m so saddened by this, but “The Ark”, you will not be forgotten!

Gregory P

October 4, 2012 12:49 am

Is everybody ok? LFR are praying for you and family!!!

Daniel L. Barth

October 3, 2012 11:12 pm

So as of when I type and post this that fire is growing!

Dare Co Mom

October 3, 2012 10:59 pm

This is so sad, bowling alley gone, now the skating rink. The youth of Dare Co have really lost a lot this week. Praying for all the firefighter’s safety


October 3, 2012 10:09 pm

I helped put in that gym floor, played many games there. This area is already way short on gym space, what a shame.

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