A former pastorium at Faith Baptist Church, Jefferson, was heavily damaged by fire early Thursday morning.
Around 1 a.m., a blaze was reported at the building — which at one time was used as a residence for the church’s pastor. The single-story building is located next to the sanctuary on U.S. Hwy. 129.
The blaze caused significant damage to the building and destroyed two church vans parked in the carport, according to Mark Duke of the Jefferson Fire Department.
“We got there and nobody was there, so nobody was hurt or injured,” he said.
The heavy-involved fire was quickly extinguished, but firefighters didn’t finish their work on the scene until about 6 a.m., Duke said.
Meanwhile, the fire department has asked the state’s fire marshal office to investigate the incident. The state investigators are typically called to fires on church properties, he added.
“Right now, we don’t suspect anything, but we’ll let those guys figure it out,” Duke said.
A spokesperson for the state insurance and safety fire commissioner’s office confirmed that investigators will be at the church reviewing potential causes of the blaze.
“It’s not unusual for local (fire departments) to call us out to investigate,” said Wayne Whitaker of the state office.
Firefighters from Jefferson, North Jackson, Harrisburg and the Jackson County Correctional Institute responded to the incident.
Dr. Keith Cudd, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, said the building was used as a mission house to welcome visiting missionaries or special guest speakers. A missionary family from North Carolina was slated to stay in the house this weekend.
“We plan to rebuild once everything gets settled with the insurance company,” he said Thursday afternoon.
The two vans parked in the carport were the church’s only vehicles, Cudd said.
Just hours after the blaze, the church is already receiving plenty of prayers and support.
“We’ve had a lot of folks — other pastors and other churches — that have expressed anything they can do to help, and of course, that they would be praying for our church and our church family,” Cudd said.
The last time a pastor at Faith Baptist Church lived in the house was 2004, he added. The basement was used for storage.