Henry County Church Fire Ruled Not Arson

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A northern Henry County church that was built in the 1800's will now have to start fresh, after a fire destroyed everything inside.

Fire officials have just ruled out arson.

At first, some folks in the community did have that thought, when they saw their church in flames, but investigators have determined that was not the case.

The Liberty United Methodist Church in the Screamer community burned Tuesday night.

Fire fighters were on the scene within minutes after the fire started, but were unable to contain the blaze before the building was engulfed in flames.

"This was a total shock for sure, sadness for our church family. It's a very close-nit family and it's an historical church. A lot of wonderful memories here for the congregation," says Pastor Dianne Kelly.

"It's almost like loosing your family all at one time when you sit and watch something you grew up with and your family help build. It comes over 100 years. It's devastating," says member Gordon Hudspeth.

Eye witnesses say the fire started in a corner of the church. Within 10 minutes that corner was gone, and then within 30 the entire church.

"It was probably fat-lighted construction and the wind was blowing, so before anyone could get here, it was engulfed in flames," says Henry County Sheriff, Will Maddox.

The church will continue to have its regular services, even though the building lies in burned rubble.

"God can bring good out of this situation and we lean on that and we trust Him for that," says Kelly.

The cause of the fire was determined by the fire marshal as an electrical malfunction in the main service panel inside the church

Pastor Dianne Kelly says they are moving forward.

In fact, some are getting together for a prayer meeting Wednesday night in one of the member's home.

Pastor Kelly says they will hold a service this Sunday, but plans have not been set on where the services will be located.