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ATF agents investigate church fire

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Dec. 12, 2000
DAMASCUS Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were in Damascus Monday inspecting the scene of a fire that destroyed Corinth Baptist Church.
The church sanctuary burned Monday about 5 a.m. and reignited this morning at 3:30 a.m.
Kemper County Fire Coordinator Ray Luke said the wood-frame church, located on Highway 495 about 6 miles from the Lauderdale County line, was built in 1906.
State Fire Marshal Pete Cockrell and two ATF agents inspected the site Monday afternoon.
He said the building had high ceilings, walls made of pine and beams sitting on sand rock supports. Luke said several members of the 40- to 50-member congregation under Rev. Robert Higginbotham were volunteer firefighters who checked to be sure everything was off at the church before they left.
Higginbotham was at the site Monday until about 10 a.m.
He said several Methodist congregations have offered their buildings for services, and some services will be held in the fellowship hall. Anyone wanting to make a donation may do so at the DeKalb and Meridian branches of Commercial Bank.
Firefighters from District 3 and Damascus fire stations which together make up Damascus Volunteer Fire Department fought the fire. Serving as back-up, Preston volunteer firefighters arrived with two tankers and a newly-purchased pumper on its first fire response. Bailey volunteer firefighters also arrived with a tanker from Lauderdale County.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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