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Bassett church, parsonage destroyed by morning fire
Henry County Assistant Fire Marshal Kiah Cooper (left) and Fire Marshal Pete Draper survey the damage Wednesday inside Truth and Faithful Gospel Church on Melrose Drive in Bassett. The church, an adjacent house and garage were destroyed by an early morning fire on Wednesday. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Investigators have not yet determined the cause of a fire that destroyed a church and an adjacent house near Bassett Forks early Wednesday.
However, there have been no indications that the fire at Truth and Faithful Gospel Church and its former parsonage on Melrose Drive was purposely set, according to Henry County Fire Marshal Pete Draper.
The fire was reported at 781 Melrose at 5:32 a.m. Wednesday. When firefighters arrived, they saw heavy flames coming from the roof of the recently vacated home. The fire then spread to a nearby garage and the church, according to a Henry County Department of Public Safety report.
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The largely wooden house was consumed by the blaze, and the garage and church were damaged beyond repair, county public safety officials said.
Because the fire got into the church’s eaves, “our problem was getting to it once we got up there” to fight it, Draper said.
On Wednesday afternoon, county Assistant Fire Marshal Kiah Cooper worked to extinguish hot spots that flared up amid the rubble of the destroyed house.
The brick church remained standing, yet rubble filled most of the sanctuary. A large chunk of brick in the back of the structure had fallen, and there were holes in the metal roof. Windows were broken, wooden parts of a bell tower were charred and large puddles of water could be seen throughout the interior.
Yet a clock on the wall of the fellowship hall in the church’s basement continued to tick.
Investigators said it may take several days to finish their probe.
Crews from the Collinsville, Bassett, Fieldale, Ridgeway and Patrick Henry fire departments responded to the blaze, along with county public safety workers, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the Fieldale-Collinsville Rescue Squad.
Truth and Faithful Gospel Church also has a location on Ellsworth Street in Martinsville.
Brenda Jefferson, the church’s pastor, could not be reached for comment.
Draper said church officials told him the building that burned is insured.
That building is more than 80 years old and once was home to Fort Trial Christian Church, Draper said, to his understanding.