Fire erupts at Turlock church Kitchen deemed a total loss

By Sabra Stafford
Crime Desk
Individuals working to clean paint off a surface inadvertently sparked a fire that left a church kitchen a smoky and charred mess.

No injuries were reported at the fire at St. Thomas Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church on Wednesday, but it did cause an estimated $100,000 in damage, according to the Turlock Fire Department.

The fire was reported around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the church’s social hall at 2907 N. Berkeley Ave. The social hall is a separate building located behind the church.

The first fire crews to arrive at the scene found flames and heavy smoke coming from the building. The fire crews did a rapid search of the building and found it unoccupied, said Turlock Fire Battalion Chief Gary Carlson.

The fire was brought under control in about 15 minutes, with crews remaining on scene for an additional two hours to put out any hot spots. A total of four engines and 16 personnel responded to the blaze. Turlock Rural Fire Department provided city coverage during the incident.

The cause of the fire was traced back to workers stripping paint in the kitchen.

The kitchen was deemed a total loss from the fire and other parts of the social hall sustained heavy smoke damage.

The fire department issued a reminder that flammable liquids, such a paint remover or thinner, should not be used in enclosed spaces and around appliances.