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Church Blaze Battled For Almost Four Hours

An early morning fire Friday severely damaged the Mt. Moriah District Association building. The facility, which is located outside of Coffeeville on County Road 211, serves 29 churches in multiple counties. – Photo by Jack Gurner

Although the fire didn’t spread through the large auditorium at Mt. Moriah, the intense heat and smoke damaged the entire contents of the building. Rev. Amos Sims, who serves as Moderator for the 29-church district, said rebuilding will likely start as soon as the investigation is completed. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

COFFEEVILLE – Fire investigators looked over the debris Monday of the Mt. Moriah Union District Missionary and Educational Association building that was severely damaged by an early Friday morning blaze.

The investigation, which was being conducted by the State Fire Marshal’s office and former Yalobusha County Fire Investigator Cecil Harrison, is a routine procedure, according to Frank Hyde, fire coordinator for Yalobusha County. “It’s mandatory when a church, school, or public building is involved,” Hyde said

About a dozen firefighters from Coffeeville, Oakland, and Velma responded at 1:51 a.m. to the blaze on County Road 211 northwest of Coffeeville, according to Mack Burns, chief of the Coffeeville Fire Department. He added that fire crews were on the scene for almost four hours.

Firefighters said that the blaze appeared to have started in the front near the southeast corner of the building. They also said that the fire was so hot that they were being burned through their turnouts.

“The heat was so intense that just the radiant energy was igniting the wall behind the pulpit that was almost 100 feet from the fire,” said Hyde.

There was a rekindle at about 9:45 Friday morning that was brought under control quickly. Hyde said that one of the entrance doors had begun to burn again.

The board of the Mt. Moriah Association is scheduled to meet this Saturday to discuss future plans, according to Pastor Amos Sims, moderator for the association. “I’m sure we are going to build back,” Sims said.

In the meantime, fifth Sunday services are scheduled for the Mt. Grove M. B. Church near Coffeeville, Sims added.

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