TEMPLE (April 2, 2014) David William Halsey, 46, of Temple, was in the Bell County Jail late Wednesday afternoon charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing after fire broke out in a vacant church building in which authorities say he was sleeping.
Halsey received cuts to his hands when he broke out a window in order to escape from the burning building, authorities said.
Nearly 30 firefighters battled the fire, which was reported just after 9 a.m. Wednesday at 15 South Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive.
Heavy smoke and flames were coming from the front entrance of the one-story building when the first crews arrived, Temple Fire & Rescue spokesman Thomas Pechal said.
The fire, which was ignited by an undetermined heat source that was too close to bedding material, was ruled accidental, Pechal said.
It stated in a foyer and spread to the building’s attic, but a fire wall kept the flames from spreading across the length of the structure, he said.
The building is owned by and used to house The Family Life Center, whose members were in the process of raising money for renovations, a church official said.
Since the move, drug dealers and homeless people have broken into the building, a church official said, and investigators found evidence Wednesday that other people were staying there.
In the 1950s, the building was home to Kuykendall Motor Company, a Temple Cadillac and Oldsmobile dealership, Pechal said.