Newport church destroyed by fire overnight - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Newport church destroyed by fire overnight

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NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – An investigation is underway to determine what caused a fire that destroyed the Newport Church of God.

Newport Fire Chief Alan Gansz says the fire does not appear to be suspicious at this time.

The Newport Church of God, located at the corner of Congress and Warner Streets, caught fire shortly before 3 a.m. Friday.

When firefighters arrived to the scene, flames could be seen shooting several feet from the roof of the church.

Gansz says the fire apparently started in the attic of the fellowship hall and then spread quickly through the rest of the building.

No one was injured in the fire. Fire officials are unsure when an official cause can be disclosed.

Pastor Ricky Poole says the fire has devastated him and his congregation, but they fully intend to rebuild and start anew.

"We feel like we can make it through this with God's grace," said Poole, who's only spent 14 months as the church pastor.

Poole finally got to comb through the rubble Friday afternoon. He could not salvage much but did manage to recover a microphone some anointing oils.

"It kind of reminds us that we survived and so we're thankful and grateful for that," Poole said about recovering these items.

Church services will also continue thanks to the generosity of two neighboring churches. The First United Pentecostal Church and the Newport Pentecostal Church of God will open their sanctuaries every Sunday when they're not holding services so that the Newport Church of God congregation can gather and worship.

"We would hope that someone would allow us that privilege if tragedy was to happen to our church," said Jay Cox, pastor of Newport Pentecostal Church of God. "We just wanted to be there for them. A lot of times, you don't know what you can do or what you can say, but just offer what we can to help them."

Poole says he's not only grateful for the support from the neighboring churches but also from the City of Newport and its fire department.

"I want to say thank you, fire department, for what you did," Poole said. "We're very fortunate to be in Newport, Arkansas, and have a church here."

Poole promises to rebuild the church and come back stronger than before.

"This is a sad day for us, but we hope this will be a beginning – a new beginning," he said. "We don't feel like we're standing alone. We feel like God is standing with us, and we're grateful for that."

An insurance adjustor is expected to evaluate the damage within the next few days. Pastor Poole hopes to finalize plans for a new church building and remove all the wreckage in six months time.

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