Roxboro church destroyed after fire breaks out during prayer service
Posted July 18, 2013
Roxboro, N.C. — Person County fire investigators and the State Bureau of Investigation are looking into what sparked a blaze at a Roxboro area church during a Wednesday evening prayer service.
About 30 people were evacuated from High View Baptist Church after lights flickered and the roof started smoking. There were no injuries.
The church's pastor, Avery Dalton, said Wednesday that the lights began flickering and cut out around 7 p.m. but that the service continued because it was common for that to happen.
When he started smelling smoke, Dalton said, he went outside and saw smoke pouring from the roof of the 80-year-old building.
Ten area fire departments responded to the fire.
Dalton said the church is a total loss but that low attendance Wednesday due to summer vacation and other activities might have kept it from being worse.
"Our youth group is at church camp. They would have been upstairs where we think the fire started."
Authorities have not said where the fire started or what might have caused it, but they appeared to be concentrating on the upstairs area Wednesday afternoon.
Dalton said the congregation of 50 to 75 people will gather for Sunday service on the church lawn and then decide where to hold future services until the church can be rebuilt.
"We'll rebound. We'll come back, and we'll be strong as ever," said Bill Oakley, who has worshipped at High View for 58 years.
Still, he said, seeing the building burn was difficult.
"It was bad, very bad," Oakley said. "To see something you worked through all these years and just see it go up in flames – it was really bad."