Candle Left Burning without Supervision Considered Cause of Church Fire at the Christian Church of Arlington Heights at Thomas Street and Chestnut Avenue

Firefighters attack church fire in 1-story east wing of Christian Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday, December 6, 2020
Firefighters attack church fire in 1-story east wing of Christian Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday, December 6, 2020 (26-minute video).

Fire at Christian Church of Arlington Heights on Thomas Street and Chestnut Avenue Sunday afternoon December 6, 2020.

Fire investigators in preliminary investigation at a significant fire at the Christian Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday afternoon December 6, 2020 indicated Monday that a holiday candle left burning after church service, and while the church was unoccupied, is believed to have been the cause of a fire that damaged a first floor east wing of the church, and caused significant smoke in the chapel area. The west wing where classrooms are located was not affected by the fire.




Firefighters responded to an Activated Fire Alarm about 3:06 p.m. Sunday at the Christian Church of Arlington Heights, 333 West Thomas Street. Whether it was instinct of a fire alarm at a church during Christmas season, or the fact that two fire engines in town were already on other calls, the Arlington Heights Battalion Chief called for all responding apparatus to “run hot” to respond to the Activated Fire Alarm. In recent years only the first due apparatus runs hot on Activated Fire Alarms. Battalion 1, first on the scene, discovered his instincts were correct as he reported seeing fire through the windows, and upgraded the fire call to a Working Fire response.

Firefighters attacking the fire discovered smoke coming from a conference room on the east side of the building. Firefighters immediately had two hose lines on the fire from the exterior though windows and a door on the east side. Crews were able to get the main body of the fire knocked down by about 3:22 p.m., but they discovered brown smoke still coming from the roof in other parts of the church. Much of the work at the fire scene involved several crews cutting holes in the roof to expose any possible fire that extended from the first initial fire.




Mount Prospect’s truck crew was assigned Rapid Intervention Team (RIT). Battalion Chief 9 from Prospect Heights was assigned Safety Chief. Palatine approached the scene from the west side of the church, and Buffalo Grove and Rolling Meadows crews arrived at the north side of the building on Thomas Street.

A primary search of the building for any victims was completed by 3:28 p.m., and the building was confirmed to be clear (“negative”) of any victims.

When firefighters checked for extension, Palatine’s crew discovered heavy smoke in the chapel or sanctuary area about 3:32 p.m. Engine 4’s crew also reported smoke in the chapel, but no heat at 3:41 p.m.

Smoke conditions in the building, except the chapel, were clear by 3:56 p.m. Firefighters used extra fans after cutting holes in the roof of the chapel to clear smoke in the chapel.

No one was believed to be at the church when the fire broke out, and no firefighters were injured while extinguishing the fire, or while ventilating the roof.




The office and church sanctuary are off limits because of damage and will require significant restoration work, but the school area on the west side of the building was not significantly affected.

Police and fire investigators were on the scene within an hour after the fire was first reported.

Firefighters attack church fire in 1-story east wing of Christian Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday, December 6, 2020
Firefighters attack church fire in 1-story east wing of Christian Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday, December 6, 2020 (26-minute video).




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