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Historic church sustains minor damage in fire

Dorothy Moak waved off the smoke in the sanctuary whilefirefighters tore down the smoldering ceiling in the attic above.The threat of fire made the same old pictures and bulletins alittle more precious on Tuesday afternoon, and she double-checkedeach display.

“When I heard about the fire, my heart just broke,” said the73-year-old, who has been a member of Moak’s Creek Baptist Churchsince 1970. “Praise the Lord it’s still standing.”

Most of the 75 active members of the 130-year-old church in thecountry came rushing to their house of worship late Tuesdayafternoon as volunteer fire departments from Lincoln and Pikecounties rushed to the parking lot. What likely began as a sparkfrom a heating unit spread into the church’s old insulation andcaused what Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galeysaid was minor damage.

“The first department to arrive put some water on the fire, andthat’s probably what saved the whole church. Had it been five or 10minutes more in the burning stage, it would have been a mess,” hesaid. “The insulation was a devil to put out because of itsage.”

Galey said the state fire marshal’s office would likelyinvestigate the incident.

When the fire was out, the old hallowed ground was smoky andwet, but intact. Pastor Mike Alexander said services would be movedinto the undamaged fellowship hall while repairs to the attic aremade.

“I don’t know how much damage is done, but we’ll get it fixedand move on,” he said.

If one thing can be said about the members of Moak’s CreekBaptist Church, it’s that they love their church. Elderly membersmingled with fully geared firefighters in a parking lot as filledas it would be on any Sunday morning.

The sheriff’s deputy who watched Moak’s Creek Road said it wasprobably the first time the little potholed path had ever neededtraffic control.

Members said a UPS driver saw the smoke and called 911. Fromthere, the rush to the church was on.

“I don’t know what we would do without it,” said Earline Hall, alifelong member at 72 years old.