Aug 252011

Firefighters arrive on O.C. Haley Boulevard to extinguish a burning church van. (Robert Morris,

A Central City church lost the van it uses to transport children and seniors Thursday afternoon, when it caught fire while a church member was working on it.

The Living Witness Church of God in Christ van had been having engine trouble for several days, and Christopher Johnson was working on its carburetor around 4 p.m Thursday where it was parked on O.C. Haley Boulevard. When he tried to start it, the carburetor backfired and the whole engine caught fire, Johnson said.

“It flamed up quick with all that grease and gas on it,” Johnson said.

Johnson got away and made it across the street, where he and Deacon Robert Gordon watched as New Orleans firefighters quickly arrived from the station house around the corner and extinguished the flames.

“We can stop working on it now,” Johnson observed wryly.

“Thank God nobody got hurt,” Gordon said.

The church used the van to transport elderly community members to medical appointments, recovering addicts to substance-abuse treatment programs and children to after-school events, Gordon said. Anyone who might be able to help the church replace the van is asked to contact Pastor John Pierre at 524-2954.

“We would be most grateful,” Gordon said.

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