North Beaver Baptist Church on NC 163 outside West Jefferson, built in 1943, was destroyed in the early hours of Sunday morning by a fire that may have started in the building’s attic.
Shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, a passing Ashe County Sheriffs Office Deputy saw the fire and alerted county communications, according to Pastor Rick Miller of North Beaver Baptist Church, who rushed to the scene.
“I made it to the church probably 15 minutes after they called West Jefferson (Volunteer Fire Department) out,” said Miller. “Flames were shortly shooting through the roof. It was so sad to watch.”
The West Jefferson, Glendale Springs, Jefferson, and New River Volunteer Fire Departments battled the blaze throughout the night but, in the end, it simply wasn’t enough.
“Our deepest thanks and appreciation goes out to the fire departments,” said Miller. “They worked all night and tried their best, but the fire was too much for the structure to be saved.”
Ashe County Fire Marshal Bob Davis said the church is a total loss and that an investigation into what caused the fire is underway. Miller said the State Bureau of Investigation was also on-site Sunday morning investigating the fire.
“I was told the fire may have started somewhere in the attic,” said Miller. “But that’s not official at this point.”
Despite the fire, the church’s congregation met for services Sunday morning at Badger Funeral Home. Miller said the church would now focus its attention on what to do next.
“We’ll conduct our business for the Lord just like normal, just in a different location,” said Miller on Sunday. “We did meet this morning, and we’ll meet going forward.”
Miller said early Sunday afternoon that several local churches had offered locations North Beaver could use to conduct services.
“This will probably take over a year, when everything is said and done,” said Miller. “We’re going to meet shortly to determine where we’ll meet while we rebuild, but we’ve already had offers from other churches that we could use as a temporary location. This kind of thing happens, but we’ll go on.”