Firefighter dies in two-alarm Muncie church fire


MUNCIE - A firefighter has died while battling a two-alarm fire at a church on the south side of Muncie.

The fire broke out shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Tabernacle of Praise church at 2200 East Fuson Road on Muncie's south side. Multiple units were called to the scene shortly after in broke out.

"Just about every truck in the area" has been called, according to the dispatcher.

About 20 minutes later, a firefighter reported trouble over his radio.

"We have a firefighter down," the firefighter said. "Bring your guys immediately to the front of the church."

After the fire was put out, firefighters draped an American flag over a white sheet that covered the fallen firefighter's remains. His comrades stood at attention as the remains were later placed in a Delaware County ambulance.

Fire officials say they will release the fallen firefighter's name at a news conference at 11 a.m. in Muncie. They spent Wednesday evening notifying family.

The Muncie Star-Press has identified the firefighter as 40-year-old Scott Davis.

The fire burned for more than an hour, leaving little more than a couple walls standing on the 20-year-old sanctuary. The Family Life Center, wrecked by strong winds in 1997, was left undamaged. For the pastor of the church, it was about a life lost.

"Our hearts, right now, are just broken and we are in prayer for the loss of the firefighter," said Reverend John Tyner. "This is just an unimaginable feeling right now."

Delilah Garrett and her family rushed to the scene, waiting to hear the victim's name. She has a brother who is a firefighter in Muncie.

"Not knowing. Not knowing," she said.

Other friends of firefighters waited, too.

"Fire's one thing, but for a man to lose his life, it's just a shame," said Muncie resident Darrell McAdams. "It's amazing what they do. They put their life on the line every day."

They're also part of the church.

"It's hard. This was home. But the only comfort you can find is, it's a building. It's not the church. If you look around at all of these people standing here, this is the church," Garrett said.

The congregation gave comfort while taking comfort from one another.

Investigators will look at possible lightning as they try to determine a cause of the fire. Storms moved through the Muncie earlier Wednesday and Tyner wonders if a strike touched off a smoldering fire. He said no one should have been in the building since 4:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Several agencies are investigating the blaze. Aside from the Muncie Fire Department, the State Fire Marshal's office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms which is always brought in on church fires.