75-Year-Old Church Building Burns Near Downtown Tulsa

Wednesday, February 19th 2014, 1:44 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Fire Department is on the scene of a fire at a church building in the 1500 block of East Independence Street.

Firefighters arrived at Bowen Baptist Church building at Independence and Rockford just after 12:30 p.m. 

Officials said they didn't find anyone inside the building when they arrived.

Neighbors told investigators they saw three people running from the area right before the fire. TFD Capt. Stan May said the cause of the fire is arson and investigators are looking for those three people.

No description was given, but witnesses said they are juveniles or young adults.

01/18/2009 Related Story: Tulsa Church Needs A New Home After Arson Arrest

In 2009, a teenage boy was arrested for arson after police said he intentionally set a fire that did more than $100,000 in damage to the now 75-year-old building. The building also had been vandalized a few days before.

At the time, church members, comprised of mostly American Indian families, told News On 6 they couldn't afford the repairs and would have to abandon the building and hold services elsewhere.

Aside from the structure being three-quarters of a century old, the building's neighborhood is widely known in pop culture circles. Fight scenes from the iconic Tulsa film "The Outsiders" were filmed in nearby Crutchfield Park.