Arson team investigates Campbell County church fire

Arson team investigates Campbell County church fire

Posted:
Fincastle Church of God, located off Old Middlesboro Highway in LaFollette, burned to the ground early Sunday morning. Fincastle Church of God, located off Old Middlesboro Highway in LaFollette, burned to the ground early Sunday morning.
"We just got the church the way we wanted it and then this happens. It's heartbreaking," said Rev. Mike Smith. "We just got the church the way we wanted it and then this happens. It's heartbreaking," said Rev. Mike Smith.
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office Bomb and Arson Section were on site for several hours Monday. Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office Bomb and Arson Section were on site for several hours Monday.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

LAFOLLETTE (WATE) - A Campbell County church congregation is still waiting for answers after a weekend fire claimed their place of worship.

Fincastle Church of God, located off Old Middlesboro Highway in LaFollette, burned to the ground early Sunday morning.

Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office Bomb and Arson Section were on site for several hours Monday, but constant rainfall forced them to quit.

They'll be back Tuesday to try to find out just how this fire started.

For church members, it'll be a step towards healing after this enormous loss.

"Pulled up, that's when reality really hit. I just have to lean on the Lord. He'll have to give me the strength," said Rev. Mike Smith, the head pastor of Fincastle Church of God, where he has worked for 21 years.

As rain poured, fire investigators and sheriff's deputies combed through what was left of Fincastle, looking for what led to this tragedy.

Church members are anxious to know what happened.

Rev. Smith says they had just completed at $20,000 renovation, including a new roof and ceiling.

"We just got the church the way we wanted it and then this happens. It's heartbreaking," said Smith.

When Smith looks at what little the fire left behind, he says it's devastating.

But he doesn't see the charred remains of what was their church home just a few days ago. Instead, he sees the years of services and memories they built inside those walls.

"I knew what was there. What was inside there was a lot more beautiful than what we see now. In my mind, I see what used to be there," said Smith.

Churches from across Campbell County are rallying around this congregation, already dropping off monetary donations as they start to put the pieces back together.

"I've had 6, 7 or 8 pastors to come up here and offer the use of their facilities. I've had 20 to 25 pastors call me," said Smith. "By the helping grace of God, we'll get through this and get our church built back."

They've already been in touch with their insurance company, but have to wait on what arson investigators determine as the cause.

Investigators say it's too early to rule anything out, including arson.

As for where Fincastle will hold its next service on Sunday, that's still up in the air.

If you'd like to donate, you can call Pastor Mike Smith at 423-494-4358.

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