RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. (WOAY) – Flames that engulfed Freedom Ministries over the weekend drew in multiple local fire departments, but temperatures were so extreme that many had to retreat.
“An average house fire at the ceiling is probably about 1200° and back down to the floor about 300°,” said Lieutenant Chris Graham from Beckley Fire Department. “The church is a really big open space…With all that air and fuel for the fire it’ll get really hot really quick.”
Heat isn’t the only danger that poses itself to firefighters. Burning materials like plastics can release toxins that could cause cancer.
Fire departments that responded to Sunday’s fire were unavailable before our deadline, but Beckley Fire Department was able to share details on how their teams stay safe.
“[Our face mask] is what connects us to the air bottle,” said Graham. “Without this, we’d be breathing in smoke and toxic gases.”
The suit and gear weigh approximately 80 pounds. To prepare to work under the weight, firefighters do most of their training in full gear.
Sunday’s fire devastate the Freedom Ministries community. It took thousands of gallons of water to put out the flames. Despite the ferocious heat, not a single firefighter was injured and not one Bible or cross was found burned.