Local News

Fire Destroys Church Sanctuary in Kittrell

Posted August 10, 2007 6:06 p.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2007 11:44 p.m. EDT

— Fire destroyed a church sanctuary in Kittrell Friday afternoon as multiple fire departments responded to the scene.

Firefighters battled the blaze at Union Chapel United Methodist Church, 6479 Raleigh Road. There is no word on how the fire started.

While the sanctuary was destroyed, the church's office might be able to be salvaged.

“I couldn’t believe it. It just was unbelievable it happened to us,” said Durwood Wells, a lifetime member of the church. “I was very emotional. I was in tears.”

“It was just smoke everywhere,” said Tony Sanford, a church lay leader. “They couldn’t even go in the building.”

In a matter of moments, the Union Chapel church sanctuary was gone - a sanctuary hallowed in history. It was built more than 150 years ago, and on Friday was reduced to rubble.

“It was one of the most beautiful sanctuaries you’ve ever seen, and it’s just heartbreaking,” Sanford said.

More than 70 firefighters from all over Vance and Franklin counties worked for hours to put out the fire on one of the hottest days of the year.

“Three firefighters got too hot and we called an ambulance,” said Henderson Fire Chief Danny Wilkerson.

While investigators speculate about the cause of the fire, officials said they don’t know for sure what happened. Some suspect lightning ignited the fire.

The State Bureau of Investigation is expected to be at the church Saturday morning to investigate. In the meantime, church members said they will be back on Sunday for church service – even if they have to hold it on the lawn.

Members said they’ll pray for comfort and the strength to rebuild.

“With the help of the Lord, we’ll get it done,” Wells said.

Church members said the pastor was out of town when the fire started and didn’t hear about it until several hours later.