TEMPLE (August 7, 2012)—A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 19 for the First Baptist Church of Temple’s new 52,600-square foot building, the church announced Tuesday.
The groundbreaking will be exactly 32 months after the fire on Jan. 19, 2010 that destroyed the church’s 70-year-old sanctuary in downtown Temple and damaged or gutted several adjacent church buildings.
The $10.9 million building at the corner of FM 2305 and Pea Ridge Road in west Temple will house a workship center, gym and educational facilities, the church said.
The church purchased 138 acres of land in western Temple in the spring of 2009, and hired Shanks Architects in Dallas to do design work.
Cloud Construction, Inc, of Temple is the general contractor for the project.
The Jan. 19, 2010 fire was deliberately set, but no arrests have ever been made.
Temple and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators found evidence in the rubble of the sanctuary that indicated the fire was the work of an arsonist, but authorities never disclosed what was found or where.
A Temple police officer spotted the flames and reported the fire at 5:24 a.m. on Jan. 19, 2010, and a second alarm was requested within a few minutes of the arrival of the first Temple Fire and Rescue crews.
A third alarm was requested at 5:40 a.m., calling in all off-duty firefighters.
The roof of the church collapsed around 6:30 a.m. as crews battled the flames from all four sides.
Firewalls, which were installed in 2003, are believed to have helped protect the remainder of the building.
On March 10, 2010, the sanctuary was razed after s items including some china and silver that was in the basement of the building were removed.