Barnwell church has close call with fire

Barnwell City Fire Department responded to a call after someone reported smelling smoke inside a church Dec. 23.

At approximately 5:50 p.m. the fire department received a call to respond to Calvary Baptist Church at 8744 Marlboro Ave.

The Rev. Joseph Blalock lives next door to the church he pastors.

He said a youth who was staying with him went to the church to check on some lights which had been left on. Upon entering the church sanctuary, the youth noticed the lights were dim and there was a smell of smoke.

Barnwell City Fire Chief Tony Dicks said the fire was quickly contained and resulted in minor structural damage.

The damage was contained to a small area just above the main church aisle.

While firefighters fought the fire and assessed the damage, a crowd gathered on the church grounds, joined hands, formed a circle and prayed.

Firefighters protected the carpet in the church as well as the pews, Dicks said.

Firefighters did have to pull ceiling materials down to access the fire.

Dicks said the believed cause of the fire was an electrical short of some kind. It could have been caused by rodents chewing on wires, raw wires rubbing together or a number of other causes.

Eighteen Barnwell City firefighters responded to the scene, Dicks said.