According to Centre Fire Chief Jeremy Lee, Centre, Leesburg, and Spring Creek Fire Departments were dispatched to a reported structure fire at Grace Pointe Church of God on East Main St. early Monday morning.
Cherokee County 911 received the call at 1:25 Monday morning with the caller reporting flames coming from the front left side of the church. Firefighters quickly arrived on-scene and began battling the blaze. Due to the front of the church being brick and the sides, back and roof being metal, it made it very difficult to gain access to the fire therefore additional fire departments had to be called in from Cedar Bluff, Ellisville, McCord’s, Piedmont, and Gaylesville. After approximately eight hours firefighters were able to bring the fire under control and extinguish it.
Chief Lee says “out of 20+ years in the fire service, this was one of the most difficult fire scenes that I have ever been on. The church is a two-story structure that encompasses about 30,000 square feet. The sides and back were metal and the front was brick. The heat and smoke didn’t really have a way to escape and it was just too dangerous to put anyone on the roof to try and ventilate it”.
Chief Lee says the State Fire Marshals Office was called to the scene to conduct an investigation, with the assistance of the ATF. Chief Lee says it appears the fire started in the front left side of the church and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Chief Lee did say, at this time it does not appear that lightning was a contributing factor, despite some previous reports and speculation.
Chief Lee wants to extend his greatest appreciation and commend all of the firefighters that responded to the fire or stood by throughout the county to provide coverage. It was a team effort on the part of everyone. Chief Lee also wants to give a special thank you to Piedmont Fire Chief Mike Ledbetter and his firefighters for responding and assisting, Floyd EMS for responding and providing rehab for the firefighters, and to all law enforcement who responded to provide traffic control and a safe working environment.