IRAAN, TX (KWES) - A Harte Street church devastated by an electrical fire is facing challenges on their mission to rebuild.
The blaze destroyed "almost everything" inside Iraan First Baptist Church on April 29 and required fire fighters from six departments to extinguish, church leaders said.
Officials confirmed the church was declared a total loss. No injuries were reported.
"It's painful to lose this much history," said Keith Green, a deacon for First Baptist Church. "Everything usable is gone... but we're looking forward to rebuilding and creating new memories."
The fire was a "fluke" likely caused by an electrical failure involving a new, fully functioning air conditioner, he told NewsWest 9.
More than two months later, warped steel beams and the crumbling stone exterior of the building still stand behind a metal fence. Green said demolition had not yet started and would be delayed for several more weeks, due in part to widespread flood damage in recent weeks.
"There aren't that many companies that are set up to demolish something like [this church] and haul it off," he explained. "And with all of the damage around San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth [with] all the flooding that took place, [those companies] are busy."
Various contractors they contacted all had lengthy lists of construction projects that require urgent attention. The demolition process should begin by the end of July, Green said, leaving them with a "clean, fresh slate" to start over.
Church leaders also need to deal with various inspections, insurance paperwork, construction decisions and inventory requirements, among other responsibilities, before rebuilding can begin. Green estimated the new church would take about 18 months to build.
"We lost a lot of memories, a lot of photos, an old building [and] a lot of [material] things, but we still have what's important," he said. "Nobody was killed [or] injured and we have a lot of hope for the future. We're very optimistic about moving forward."