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Leaders of the Memorial Drive church have done what they can to secure the building, including putting a fence around the building.
Photo provided by Jason Thornton

Two people die in church fire

A Tulsa church catches fire for the second time this year.

For months, the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa, Okla., has tried to move forward after a fire that destroyed much of its building. 

Related: Firefighters respond to blaze at Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa, Okla.

Now, another fire at the heavily damaged facility has claimed the lives of two people. The unidentified man and woman apparently were seeking shelter in the charred remains, investigators said.

“We had done everything we could do to keep people out, but we’ve had problems with break-ins from the start,” Jason Thornton, minister for the Memorial Drive church, told The Christian Chronicle.

Memorial Drive church leaders have re-secured the burned property multiple times, and even had extra patrols around the site. 

Despite those additional security measures, authorities say two people were in the building when it caught fire on the morning of Dec. 6. 

The exact cause of the second fire is still under investigation. Electricity to the building has been off for months. Officials said it appears the fire started in a section of the building that had not previously been damaged. 

Thornton said the man and woman who died in the fire were not members of the church. 

“We are in a neighborhood that (even before the fire) we would regularly have homeless people who would find ways in and sleep in our building,” Thornton said. 

“I can’t say enough how much we appreciate prayers. It’s not a small thing, and it has really sustained our spirit.”

The male victim died at the scene. A female was taken to a Tulsa hospital, where she later died. 

Thornton said church members’ hearts go out to the victims’ families. 

The congregation has been grateful, he said, for all of the support they received following the first fire. 

“I can’t say enough how much we appreciate prayers,” Thornton said. “It’s not a small thing, and it has really sustained our spirit.”

Since the original July 24 blaze, the congregation has been meeting at a nearby Christian church. That building was left empty when the Christian church combined with another area congregation last year. 

After nearly five months, the church’s insurance company is still working to decide what will happen on its claim.

Filed under: Church of Christ Fire Memorial Drive Memorial Drive Church of Christ National News Top Stories Tulsa

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