Craig Day, News On 6
VINITA, Oklahoma -- A devastating fire swept through a popular restaurant, cowboy church, and Christian school in Vinita Sunday.
Eight fire departments were called to help battle the fire at the Cowboy Junction Church and Restaurant south of Vinita on county road 4380 in Craig County.
Many people were still in shock Monday. They're left wondering what's next, with the school year approaching, the church sanctuary destroyed and employees with nowhere to work.
At Cowboy Junction, the flames spread rapidly. The fire started at a cooler and quickly moved to the attic.
"Flames were just coming out and it was smoking," said Bryle Martin, who witnessed the fire.
Several fire departments responded, and the fire also brought out people full of concern and now disbelief.
"It's a tremendous loss to everybody. Not just me, but the whole community," said Tommy Skinner, Celebrate Recovery Leader.
The building is now a burned out shell of memories.
"This is devastating, I can't explain it, I don't understand it. But circumstances happen," said Cowboy Junction Pastor Wade Markham.
Pastor Markham says when a fire as damaging as this one happens, there's no choice but to roll over, or rally... he chooses to rally.
"I still cry. But it's just a launching place," he said.
Markham first launched Cowboy Junction with a cowboy ministry in 1989, adding the Pre-k through 8th grade school and restaurant along the way.
While firefighters put out hot spots, Markham, his family, friends and church members, are left wondering what's next.
"We're excited about the opportunity to rebuild and see what God is going to do here next," said School Administrator Michelle Markham.
Firefighters kept the flames from spreading to part of the school. But there's smoke damage, and it's just one week away from pre-school starting.
"We're going to see what we can do, we're going to have to limit our enrollment some this year, and won't be able to take quite as many, we're just going to try to do the best we can with what we have," Michelle Markham said.
But, the sanctuary is a total loss. Pastor Markham says it will take time, but the church will rebuild. For now, they're just thankful for community support and the work of firefighters, and relieved no one was hurt.
"It's not a setback. It's a set up. Because we're going to build back. And we'll be on a better horse," Pastor Markham said.
The church will continue to worship at Cowboy Junction. They'll return to the barn where the ministry started, even though it is much smaller.
Their regular Monday night service will be held tonight. Clean up will begin Tuesday.
Fire officials are still sifting through the damage to determine the cause of the fire. No one was injured in the fire.