First United Methodist Church in Morton destroyed by Sunday morning fire

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Fourteen hours after arriving at the First United Methodist Church Sunday morning, Morton volunteer fire crews were finally rolling up their hoses.

The next step is to sort through the rubble.

Morton fire officials were called to the church shortly after 3 a.m. Whiteface and Levelland fire departments sent crews to help, but it took them more than twelve hours to get the blaze under control.

The church's pastor, Hoppy Fletcher, told us one person was arrested after they were caught jumping out of the church.

The Cochran County Sheriff's Office tells us there is an ongoing investigation. The state fire marshal's office is conducting an official investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

Officials tell us there were no injuries, but the building was a complete loss.

One person is in custody in association to the fire. The name of the suspect and any possible charges have not been released.

Members of the church drove by slowly this afternoon taking in the damage, including James St. Clair.

"This was the sanctuary, this was where all the services took place and then all the programs and everything," he said pointing at the side of the building. "Back in the back was the kitchen and these were offices right here."

James walked slowly around the burned out structure, taking pictures with his iPhone in disbelief.

He says the church was like a second home, that he had many memories there as a young boy and had to see it for himself.

"Just all the memories," he said. "I just think of every dinner we had in here and the special things that happen - the Christmas services, it just made me almost cry when I heard the news."

Cory Benson and his wife live across the street from the church and a fire was the last thing he expected to wake up to this morning.

"You could kind of see it started down in the far corner of the church and it kinda spread its way through," he said. "We stayed out here until 8 or 9:30 this morning as church members were showing up wondering what was going on. The flames got pretty high up towards the roof..."

Benson says members of the church were visibly upset as they drove by this morning. Both he and St. Clair feel this is a big loss for the community.

"You have insurance on a building like this. I'm sure that it can replace some things but you can't replicate what they had here," St. Clair said.

Fletcher confirmed that the building is covered by insurance and the church will be rebuilt. They are still looking at locations for next week's service. He says that will be decided in the middle of the week.

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