SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A congregation in rural Suffolk is cleaning up after one of their church buildings caught fire Wednesday.
Emergency dispatchers received the 911 call just after 8 p.m. from a passerby who noticed fire and smoke. Fire crews were at the scene in the 3000 block of Bridge Road six minutes later, according to Diana Klink with the city of Suffolk.
When they arrived at Village Christian Fellowship Church, they found heavy smoke and fire coming from a 1,000 square-foot outbuilding. Klink said no one was inside the building at the time.
Firefighters with Suffolk Fire & Rescue and the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department were able to knock down the flames by about 8:40 p.m.
10 On Your Side talked to the pastor on Thursday. He said the church’s school house building has be around for more than fifty years.
“We call it the school house because it’s got that bell on top,” Pastor Bill Powell said. “There are two sections to the building. One is a Sunday school, nice wood floor, nice little place for about 20 to 25 students. You also have a section in which we store all of the tables, plastic tables, round tables, rectangular tables for covered dish and luncheons and that type of thing. They were all melted together by the intensity of the fire.”
The students who use the school house on Sunday mornings came close to having their entire weekend plans go up in smoke.
“This is a Sunday school basically for teens. They were using this as a staging area to go on a retreat this weekend. There were a lot of things in there that we had to replace this morning because they are leaving today,” Powell said.
Supplies can be replaced, but the pastor said he is thankful no one was hurt and lucky because the fire could have been much worse.
“We are grateful to the Lord Jesus that the sanctuary did not go down,” he said. “We’d be out of a place for sometime.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.
“You assume it would be an accident, but you don’t know, somebody just goofing around,” Powell said. “They did their investigation, concluded that it is suspicious in some way, and we just started to load things out of there.”