Attic fire destroys addition to local church

Published 11:03 pm Saturday, October 7, 2006

Friday evening, an extension being built on to the Christian Life Assembly of God caught fire, destroying much of the extension’s roof.

The Picayune Fire Department did not know Friday evening why the attic of the church’s new auditorium caught fire and burned for about four and a half hours as firefighters fought to save the worship section of the church.

The fire was reported by Laura Guidry who used to be a member of the church for 17 years. She said she was passing the church on Mississippi 43 North when she noticed smoke emanating from base of the steeple on the roof of the addition. Guidry said at that time she tried to call 911 but before they could provide assistance, she realized where she was.

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“Then it dawned on me, just go to the fire department,” Guidry said, because Fire Station #1 is located right behind the church.

Darrell Worley, pastor of the church, said the auditorium that caught fire was still under construction. Worley said he had expected it to be ready to move into it within the next three weeks, before the fire damaged the roof. The sprinkler system and fire alarm were hooked up but the dialer, which notifies authorities of emergencies, was not, Worley said.

The pastor said the sprinkler system was not equipped to reach inside the closed attic. All it could do was dump water on the floor while the fire burned overhead.

“The sprinkler systems are under the fire,” Worley said as smoke poured from eaves, open doors and a hole now burning in the roof. “I’m praying they can get it out quick.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Picayune Fire Department and the church’s insurance company, said Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown.

“I don’t know what at this point caused it,” Worley said.

While the fire was burning, the steeple on top looked as though it would fall through the roof, but later righted it self as the fire made its way around the uniquely shaped roof. Brown believes the beams of the addition could be salvageable, which could be the reason the steeple did not fall.

“I think God was holding it up there,” Brown said.

Worley said they plan to rebuild the damaged section of the church and expect to still be able to hold Sunday worship.