Huge fire tears through Mesa church


by Catherine Holland and Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 23 at 9:50 AM

Map: 314 W. University Dr.

View larger map

MESA, Ariz. -- Dozens of firefighters were on the scene of a massive fire at a church at University and Country Club drives in Mesa Thursday morning.

The first 911 calls were made by Church Pastor David Land around 8:45a.m.

"I looked in the lobby door and you couldn't get down there because everything caved in," Pastor Land told 3TV.

Aerial video from Chopper 3 showed huge flames shooting from the roof of the New Life Assembly of God Church and thick black smoke pouring off the building. That smoke was visible for miles.

In addition to the ground crews, firefighters were dumping water on the fire from two ladder trucks.

A huge section of the church roof collapsed over the children's wing.   No one was injured.

"We've been trying to remodel, so it's tough to see this happen," church member Patty Watts said, while watching the firefighters.

"But the building is us, the people, not the building," she added.

"If this is an attack from Satan, and this is the best he's got, we'll be ok," Pastor Land said.

"Something good will come out of this.  I've preached that for years, so this is my time to show I mean it," he added.

A total of about 80 firefighters were assigned to the call.

Fire investigators remained on scene Thursday evening, trying to figure out how the fire started.

The building was home to an LDS congregation several decades ago.

"It was built by volunteers who raised all the money themselves through chicken dinners.  A lot of memories were made here," former LDS Bishop Dea Montague told 3TV.

New Life, one of more than 12,000 Assemblies of God churches throughout the country, began its ministry in 1983. It is currently under the leadership of Pastor David Land.