Firefighters extinguish Campbell County church fire

Early morning fire destroys Campbell County church

The Fincastle Church of God went up in flames on Sunday morning. The Fincastle Church of God went up in flames on Sunday morning.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

6 News Anchor/Reporter

LA FOLLETTE (WATE) - A church family in Campbell County is searching for answers, after a fire early Sunday morning destroyed their church.

Fincastle Church of God burned down just after 3 a.m.

It's located off Old Middlesboro Highway in LaFollette.

While the church is a total loss, its congregation says this tragedy has brought them closer together, as they work to put the pieces back together.

"I've been here 21 years. A lot of memories here at the church," said Reverend Mike Smith, head pastor at Fincastle.

Just looking at the flames shooting out of the church Sunday morning, Smith says he knew it was bad.

But as daylight broke and he saw what was left, he discovered it was worse than he thought.

The sanctuary is now completely gutted, filled only with what remains of what was just yesterday, church pews.

"You have a lot of memories and it's just heartbreaking when something like that happens," said Smith.

A sheriff's deputy driving by saw smoke coming from the church.

When firefighters arrived on the scene just a few minutes later, they say flames were already swallowing the building.

"It was very unsafe due to roof collapse happening to send crews inside so our crews had to go to a defensive attack," said Assistant Chief Daniel Lawson of the Campbell County Rural Fire Service.

To make matters worse, there is no fire hydrant nearby.

"We were having to shuttle water from three quarters of a mile to a mile away into the scene so that was a hamper to us," said Lawson.

They were able to extinguish it, but not before it burned up just about everything, except for a few
Bibles and church records.

The church was decorated for Christmas because members were supposed to do their Christmas program at Sunday's service.

They also just recently completed $20,000 worth of renovations.

"We just put a new roof on it about 6 or 7 months ago and we had the inside ceiling redone," said Smith.

Smith says the fire may have destroyed the place this church family has called home for the last 20 years, but he says it cannot destroy the 20 years of memories this congregation shares together.

He says they will rebuild and have a new place to call home.

As to where they'll get to hold any future services, the community has already reached out to them.

"Several pastors have come by and offered us there fellowship hall or their church. We'll eventually get it back. It'll be a while but hopefully by that time it'll be bigger and better," said Smith.

The cause of the fire is undetermined right now.

Lawson says the state fire, bomb and arson team will be investigating Monday morning, as part of protocol.

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