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Church damaged in fire

MONTICELLO – A church on Highway 27 sustained mild to moderatedamage in a fire Monday night, fire department officials said.

Officials said a Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy saw smokecoming from the Temple of Praise House of Hope and called in afire. The quick action might have been what saved it from furtherdamage, they said.

“If it’d been midnight and nobody was awake, or if the S.O. unithadn’t been riding by, that thing could have gotten going realgood,” said Monticello Fire Department Capt. Jared Evans. “We justgot lucky.”

When deputies arrived on scene, fire was coming out thenorthernmost door, which was open, officials said.

Evans said the fire started in the north half of the building,where it seemed to be concentrated in a back room just north of thesanctuary. He said firefighters entered through a middle door totry to confine the fire to the one room it was in.

“Where we were it was hard to see it for all the smoke, and itwas a pretty good amount of heat, but from the outside it lookedlike an inferno back there,” he said. “The only thing that mighthave slowed it down a little is that there wasn’t any ventilation,nowhere for it to advance to.”

It was hard to guess a percentage of damage in the darkness,Evans said, but he estimated most of the damage stayed in the backroom.

“Fire got the whole back room,” he said. “There was some heat,but not much, that got beyond the double doors, and some soot inthe other rooms. We had to take some ceiling tiles out, and theremight be a little water damage in there.”

Evans said he was proud of the effort of Monticello’sfirefighters and some of the volunteers from other departments thatwere on scene.

“The guys did a good job, I’m proud of everyone that was there,”he said. “You’re riding on a little bit of luck every time youfight a fire, and this time it was our side.”