Manchester Fire and Rescue Department personnel were dispatched to 953 Emerson St. early Thursday afternoon after a resident reported smoke billowing from the annex building of Greater Love Church.
When firefighters arrived they were able to knock the fire down and contain the majority of the fire damage to the rear
corner of the building.
“The fire was contained to the back, rear corner,” said MFD assistant chief Mark Reed. “The guys did an awesome job of knocking it down for what they had when they got there … they knocked it down within minutes.
“There is substantial damage to that rear corner.”
The building was originally home to the Greater Love Church starting in 1979 but the congregation, led by late pastor George Lewis, built a newer building in 1988 next door and left the older building for dinners and seminars.
“My mother and father founded this church,” said Renee Lewis, who arrived on the scene soon after firefighters did. “This church started right there in that building in the 70s when I was very small. Then we built this [newer] church [building] in the 80s.”
Renee Lewis’ mother, Beverly Lewis, pastors the church. (Click here for video of the fire.)
“I’ve been pastor here since 2009 and my husband [George] pastored up to then and he passed away.”
Renee Lewis explained that she and her mother were inside the burned building shortly before the fire.
“We had been up here earlier cleaning up,” she said, adding that the building wasn’t used often but was being cleaned for use this summer. “We went to the post office for a minute and came back and this is what we see.”
Reed said that the cause of the fire is unknown and will be investigated the same as all fires are. Manchester firefighter Jeremy Woods is investigating.
“Our investigator is over there on it and he will make a determination, hopefully, within a week or two,” explained Reed.
Because the fire started during the day it was likely noticed quicker than if it started at night, Reed said.
“The good thing is it was right in the middle of the day,” explained Reed. “Fires in the middle of the night are able to burn a lot longer before anyone notices them and they can advance and spread. It was in the middle of the day and with it being an older building it was going pretty good and spreading rapidly but these [firefighters] got in there and knocked it down quick.”
Look for more photos in next week’s (May ) print edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and / or full online version of the paper.