Fire does estimated $1 million damage to Danville church

DANVILLE — An early morning fire that may have been caused by a lightning strike did an estimated $1 million in damage to the sanctuary of Ridgeview Baptist Church in Danville, according to Larry Thomason, Danville public safety director.

Motorists driving by the church at 3838 N. Vermilion St. at 3:30 a.m. Saturday  called in the fire, reporting flames coming from the roof, Thomason said.

Danville firefighters had the blaze knocked out by 5 a.m., and no one was injured.

Although the damage is not readily apparent from the exterior, except for some holes in the roof at the top of the sanctuary near a large cross that reaches toward the sky, Thomason and members of the congregation reported extensive damage on the inside of the sanctuary.

Thomason said damage is estimated at $1 million. He said local fire investigators and officials with the state fire marshal's office were on the scene Saturday morning investigating the cause, which they believe may have been a lightning strike but can't yet say for sure.

Thomason said the structure with its high vaulted ceiling made it more difficult for firefighters to get to the fire. Thomason said the church was built in 1993.

The congregation plans to hold Sunday services at 11 a.m. outdoors in the pavilion behind the church building. Members of the congregation are there now getting ready to set up chairs for the outdoor service. The congregation doesn't have a long-term plan yet for where it will hold services but other church congregations in the community have already offered the use of their buildings.

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