Fire engulfs Corriher Heights Baptist

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2011

N.C. DOT is reopening a portion of N.C. 153 that was closed as firefighters continue to fight hot spots at Corriher Heights Baptist Church, 1980 N.C. 153. Authorities with the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating.
The fire began around 5:30 this morning, shortly after neighbors say they heard a loud rumble of thunder and crack of lightning.
The church is nearly completely destroyed. The roof has collapsed and all of the stained-glass windows broken. Firefighters were able to save a small amount of furniture, as well as a billboard with photos from a recent mission trip to India where they built a church.
Pastor Chris Pethel said the church will rebuild.
“I don’t take this necessarily as an attempt to stop the church,” Pethel said. “I know that God is in control of all things. And if his hand’s in this, then it’s for the better.”
Arvil Black, who has been a member for about 40 years, said he heard a “big crack a lack” and thought lightning had hit a transformer, as it has in the past. So he went back to sleep, but was soon awakened by his wife.
“She opened the door and said the church is on fire,” he said.
“My wife’s son opened the door (of the church) and looked in, and the pews was already burning. The way I look at it had to be the Lord’s work. And lightning — you can’t control nature.”
The church was unlocked when firefighters arrived, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Multiple fire departments and two ladder trucks fought the flames for hours this morning.
Pethel said he’s already been contacted by several churches offering their sanctuary for services.