Volunteer workers came to the rescue of College Hills Church of Christ in droves Thursday following a small fire Wednesday evening started by an apparent lightning strike.
“That’s the beauty of Lebanon,” said preacher Kevin Owen. “Lebanon is a small town where everybody cares about everybody. We are just grateful to everyone who has offered to and pitched in to help.
“Everybody involved in the cleanup is working hard and is just fantastic.”
Owen said there were no plans to cancel Sunday services, but he wasn’t sure about plans for children’s ministries after firefighters tore a hole in the roof above the children’s wing to fight the fire. The main corridor suffered significant water damage.
Owen said any and all schedule changes would be posted Saturday on the church’s website at collegehills.org.
He said the annual School Store, which provides backpacks and other supplies to students in need, remains scheduled for July 27 without any changes since the fire broke out away from the fellowship hall where School Store is annually held.
According to Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen, dispatch received a 911 call Wednesday shortly before 6 p.m., reporting "a strong smell of smoke and a funny smell" in the church on Leeville Pike.
When the first two fire trucks arrived, crews saw flames, so four other units responded.
"That was the whole fire department [on duty at the time]," said Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Dowell. "All three stations responded."
Firefighters quickly contained the fire, breaking through the roof at about 6:15 p.m. before it was fully extinguished by about 6:30 p.m.
"We’re suspecting it’s going to be lightning [as the cause]," said Dowell. "People were inside the church, but [the fire] was mainly up in the attic of the church."
Thunderstorms moving through Wilson County at the time upped the ante for firefighters as they worked through heavy rain, high winds and lightning.
"It's always a danger anytime you've got lightning out there – and rain and wind – while they're trying to stand on a pitched roof," said Dowell.
Fire damaged the crawl space, and there was water damage in the church's corridor below. A sheet of plastic covered the 6 square feet of roof firefighters broke through to fight the fire.
No one was injured, and Dowell said the fire damage was fairly minimal.
"It's going to be a lot of smoke and water damage," said Dowell.