Fire spreads from playground to Norman church

Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze at a church June 22 in Norman. (KOKH/Shardaa Gray)

A fire on a playground behind a Norman church sent billows of black smoke into the air as it spread to the building.

The Norman Fire Department confirms that at approximately 2 p.m. June 22 a fire was reported at the Southern Oklahoma Chinese Baptist Church, 625 E. Frank Street. The fire began on the playground behind the church and spread to the attic of the building. Church member, River Zhang, told FOX 25 this was tough to see.

"It cannot be true, it must be some wrong information," said Zhang. "My heart broken, basically really big shock to me."

Norman Fire Department spokesperson Sarah Jensen reports that burning cut up rubber tires around the playground led to plumes of thick black smoke.

"The bottom of the playground are the safety area of the playground was covered in cut-up rubber tires. That's what put off a lot of that significant smoke at the beginning of this fire," Jensen said.

By 3:30 p.m. the fire was out. No one was injured. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. The playground is considered a total loss.

While fire crews work to determine if anyone was on the playground when the fire started, Zhang said he's thankful it didn't turn out worse.

"I thank God that the main building is still ok so that we can use that part," Zhang said.

Fire officials said the playground is a total loss. Investigators are now looking for witnesses and are trying to figure out if foul play was involved.

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