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LaFollette church sanctuary destroyed by fire

12:20 PM, Dec 10, 2012   |    comments
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An East Tennessee church congregation isn't giving up hope, after an early Sunday morning fire destroyed their sanctuary.

The fire started around 3:00 a.m. at Fincastle Church of God in LaFollette when Sheriff's deputies on patrol noticed smoke coming from the roof.

It took thirty firefighters from four departments several hours to finally extinguish the blaze, with Campbell County Rural Fire Service taking charge.

Pastor Mike Smith said the church had previously scheduled a special Christmas service and dinner for Sunday. Instead, when church members arrived they found their building barely recognizable.

Smith said the congregation immediately shifted their focus to helping the firefighters.

"The ladies got coffee made and had cookies and things," said Smith.

"Since we've been out here for such a long period, they have helped us with our rehab process and we could not thank them more," said Campbell County Rural Fire Service, Assistant Chief Daniel Lawson.

Crews weren't able to salvage much, except a one member's special Bible given to her by her late mother.

They found it opened to a verse, Ecclesiastes 3:3, which they feel will guide them through the healing process.

It explains that in every season there is a "time to break down and a time to build up."

"We have good community support and good member support so we'll bounce back. We'll come back," said Smith.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The state Fire Marshal's office will survey the damage Monday.

Smith says they hope to have future services in their fellowship hall. If not, they have already received multiple offers from neighboring churches.

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Campbell County Rural Fire crews battled  flames at Fincastle Church of God in LaFollette Sunday morning.

Officials said police were patrolling the area due to recent break-ins when an officer spotted flames at the church.

The fire started just after 3 a.m. Sunday on Old Middlesboro Highway.

Officials said fire crews were on the scene within 10 minutes after they got the call and found the roof engulfed in flames.

Around 30 firefighters from four different departments battled the blaze.

Services have been cancelled.

Churchgoers who arrived at the scene provided coffee and treats for crews.

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