Fire during Ballard Church service under investigation for possible arson

In the middle of a worship service at Ballard Church yesterday, witnesses called 911 to report smoke and flames coming from a bathroom. While the congregation evacuated the smoke-filled building, a few church patrons used fire extinguishers to put out the blaze. No one was injured.

Photo courtesy of Ballard Church

Now the Seattle Fire Department says the blaze was “set,” and it has called in the Arson and Bomb Square to investigate.

“Although the exact cause of the fire is still undetermined, Seattle’s Fire Investigator, Seattle Police, and Seattle’s Arson and Bomb Squad all agree that arson is the most likely cause,” explains a blog post on Ballard Church’s website.

Photo courtesy of Ballard Church

The fire damage was limited to the first floor women’s restroom. “Before the fire trucks arrived, Ballard Church staff and interns evacuated the children and discharged multiple fire extinguishers to help fight the fire, until the smoke became too overwhelming,” explained the church’s blog post, noting that Sunday was its biggest attendance ever — nearly 300 people.

Ballard Church opened its doors at 1460 NW 73rd St. in September of 2011. The fire started just after noon. The damage estimate is $25,000. We’ll keep you updated on the investigation.

Ballard Church to host neighborhood block party next week

On Friday, June 29, the Ballard Church (1460 NW 73rd St.) will host a big neighborhood block party, free and open to the public. Paul Diaz, the lead pastor at the church, says they’re going to shut down NW 73rd St. for the party, and will have activities for families including bouncy castles, face painting, games and food.

The party will include access to the church’s Funland, and a family movie. They’ll be serving up espresso, hot dogs, popcorn, slushies and sno-cones, all for free. The part is Friday, June 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. More info can be found on the church’s website.

Volunteers want to help neighbors this Sunday

Volunteers with Ballard Church are looking for neighborhood projects.

This Sunday, a couple dozen people will roll up their sleeves from 1 to 5 p.m. and will do anything – yard work, paint, haul stuff, clean, etc. “We truly want to make a difference in our world by loving and serving our neighbors,” the website states. The first volunteer day in July was a success, Pastor Paul Diaz tells us.

We are hoping to do this event every 4-6 weeks. Basically we want to offer a standing invitation to our community and the people in our neighborhood that if you need help with anything please give us a chance to help you out. No strings attached. It’s a completely free service that will try to tackle if we have the manpower (and woman-power) and enough time.

If you have a project for the group, email info@ballardchurch.com.

Volunteers looking for Sunday projects

Volunteers through the new Ballard Church are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This Sunday, about 20 people are available from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for various service projects at people’s homes or in the neighborhood. “They can help clean, paint, move heavy stuff, move peoples house, load trucks, yard work, mowing, weeding, edging . . . whatever people need help with,” Paul Diaz with Ballard Church tells us. “It’s totally free and it’s just to make a difference in our community and help make the world a better place.”

“Also, this is not just a one time deal, but it would be great for people to know that in the future if they have needs then just e-mail us and let us know and we will see if we can pull together a team of volunteers to help,” Diaz says.

If you have a project for the group, email info@ballardchurch.com.

Rockin’ new church opening in Ballard

The only thing traditional about the new Ballard Church (1460 NW 73rd St) is the outside.

When you walk in the front door, you’re greeted by an espresso cart, a cafe for relaxing and a table with bagels and muffins.

The sanctuary doesn’t have a traditional organ or altar – front and center is a drum set for playing non-traditional church music. “It’s really loud music, you can expect that. People that come in expecting traditional church music are going to be really surprised,” Paul Diaz, the founder of Ballard Church says. “The music is loud. We crank up the sub-woofers, the amps, everything’s going. The band is rockin’.”

Diaz lives in Crown Hill with his wife and five kids. “We’re meeting the people, we’re living here, we’re being part of this community,” Diaz says. “And it’s unique and it’s awesome and we love Ballard.” Diaz was part of Timberlake Church on the Eastside before Timberlake closed their Ballard campus at this same location a few months ago, which is how Diaz got connected with the 50,000 square foot space.

Ballard Church also focuses on kids. From newborn to middle school, there is a place for them. There are several different rooms for different age groups and a giant indoor playground that will put the McDonald’s play area to shame. “A lot of people grew up in a generation where church is so serious,” Diaz says.”A lot of kids checked out because it was boring, it wasn’t relevant, they hated going to church. I have five kids, I want my kids to enjoy church.”

Although this is an independent church, it is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. This Sunday is the second of three preview services before Ballard Church officially opens in September. The 60-minute service starts at 10 a.m.