Church fire at historic Washington County, TN church leaves members devastated
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - Oakland Cumberland Presbyterian has been a community church in Washington County, Tennessee for more than 150 years.
"The church was founded in 1850, the old church, and then it was built we think in 1876," says church member Mack Hayes.
It's been standing strong, until a sudden fire in the night destroyed the church's interior, and parts of its exterior.
"Flames was coming out the front entrance, and went up the tower and was coming out the top of the steeple and it spread back into the sanctuary," says chief of Limestone Volunteer Fire Department Steve Archer.
At this point, officials believe the cause to be accidental.
"Power service comes in right there at the entrance, and it had already burnt off and fell down on the ground, and some of the church members said they had experienced some electrical problems recently," Archer says.
When church members heard of the fire, they were heartbroken. J.R. Legg has been a member of the congregation for decades.
"Everybody was friends, everybody was friendly, just wonderful," Legg says.
Church members say while they pick up the pieces and begin to rebuild their church, they're lucky to have another place where they can have service in the meantime, their fellowship hall.
"Terrible, terrible loss for the community, for everybody that went to church here, but we're going to band together and we're going to rebuild," Hayes says.
They're thankful no one was hurt in the fire.
"We'll get the building back, but the church is still here because the church is the people," Legg says.