Firefighters in Midland had their hands full early this morning as they battled fires at an abandoned house, a car and a church.
The blazes, which were all set within minutes of each other, were believed to be arson. Pierce County sheriffs deputies arrested a 30-year-old man as he allegedly tried to break into a home in the 8100 block of 14th Avenue East.
We believe he was trying to hide, sheriffs spokesman Ed Troyer said.
Central Pierce crews were first called about 12:30 a.m. to a house fire in the 1700 block of 91st Street East, where they found half of the vacant house consumed by flames and smoke.
As firefighters put out the fire, residents reported that a fire was burning at Golgatha Baptist Church at the corner of Portland Avenue East and 85th Street East.
Firefighters spotted a man running from the church when they arrived and notified deputies, who began scouring the area.
The blaze was quickly upgraded to a 3rd-alarm fire and more than 50 firefighters from Central Pierce, Tacoma and Graham battled the flames, which were first spotted at the front of the building.
Crews used chain saws to cut holes in the roof to ventilate the smoke and gases from the fire and authorities eventually ordered firefighters away from the building. The roof collapsed shortly thereafter, Assistant Chief Ed Hrivnak said.
The rapidly moving fire, which was doused about 4 a.m., destroyed the church. Damages are estimated at $1 million.
Firefighters responding to the church fire also put out a car fire a few blocks north of the church.
No injuries were reported.