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UPDATE: Fire Destroys Franklin Parish Church

An overnight fire in Franklin Parish has destroyed a church.
 (Nick Lawton)
(Nick Lawton)
 (Nick Lawton)
(Nick Lawton)
UPDATE 8:20 p.m. -- In the course of one Wednesday morning, a 94-year-old Gilbert church, Turkey Creek Baptist Parsonage, burned to the ground, leaving only ashes, debris and memories.

"Somebody driving down the highway came beating on my door about one this morning, telling me the church was on fire," the church's pastor, Kyle Spinks, said. "What can you do? Just call 9-1-1 and hope for the best, that's about it, pray that everything gets taken care of, get my family out first and foremost."

"We got the call at about one a.m. approximately and we finally got it under what we consider to be under control by about five a.m," said Bill McLemore, Fire Chief of the Gilbert Volunteer Fire Department.

Nine different fire departments from across Franklin Parish and even as far as Tensas and Caldwell Parishes came to fight the fire, but even Mother Nature was against them.

"It was fed by a south wind that kind of blew it into the church and right down through the church and churches have high ceilings and there's a lot of fuel load in there from pews and carpet," McLemore said.

Now, a 40-member congregation is left without a church home, but they all still have their lives.

The church had been empty at the time.

No church members or firefighters were injured and even the parsonage next door was unscathed.

"That was the biggest blessing was nobody was injured. Not my family. None of the firemen were," said Spinks.

"You put a fire hose, a fire line in between your burning structure and the structure you're trying to save and just keep the structure you're trying to save, keep it cool, keep a little water on it," McLemore said.

Spinks said many other local churches are already offering their help.

They ask for prayers and pledge that they will rebuild and go on.

"God does not exist in the building. God exists in our hearts. It's us. We're the church," Spinks said.

The State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire while the church met Wednesday night to discuss where they go from here.

So far, the origin of the fire is believed to be on the southern side of the building, near the entrance, but the cause is still unknown.

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FRANKLIN PARISH --  An overnight fire in Franklin Parish destroys a church.

Winnsboro firefighters say they were called out at 12:54 a.m. Wednesday morning to a fire at Turkey Creek Baptist Church.

Eight different fire departments were called to it from Caldwell to Mangham to Tensas.

Firefighters managed to keep the fire contained to just the church building, which is a total loss. The parsonage home next door, however, remains undamaged.

There are no injuries in the fire.

Firefighters believe the fire started at the south end if the church, near the entrance, but so far no cause has been determined.

The State Fire Marshal's Office is on scene investigating the cause of the fire.

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