Newport church destroyed by fire overnight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Ricky Poole says the fire has devastated him and hiscongregation, 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 Fridayafternoon. He could not salvage much but did manage to recover a microphone someanointing oils.

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

Church services will also continue thanks to the generosityof two neighboring churches. The First United Pentecostal Church and theNewport Pentecostal Church of God will open their sanctuaries every Sunday whenthey're not holding services so that the Newport Church of God congregation cangather and worship.

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

Poole says he's not only grateful for the support from the neighboringchurches 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 churchhere."

Poole promises to rebuild the church and come back strongerthan before.

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

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

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