By Jericka Duncan and Kim Glovas
MILLVILLE, N.J. (CBS) – Congregants of the “In His Presence Church” in Millville, New Jersey, will be holding services at The Cornbread Restaurant after the church building was badly damaged in a three-alarm fire, Saturday.
Atlantic City Electric says more than 2,000 customers in Millville, New Jersey lost power Saturday and the community lost a place of worship after a 3-alarm fire broke out at a church. All power has been restored.
The blaze was reported around 12:30 p.m. at the “In His Presence Worship Center” in the 200 block of East Broad Street.
While the cause remains under investigation, Fire Chief Kurt Hess says the fire started in the steeple.
“With the wind and all that we’re not sure. Someone said they heard a transformer explode,” he said.
A utility spokesman says they believe sparks from the fire hit a primary electric line which caused the outages.
The Millville fire company says they were able to get the fire under control, but they call the church a “total loss.”
“A lot of smoke. A lot of flames. They were trying to get it out they would get it out pretty much and then it fires back up again,” says Fred Burkett, owner of S&J Pizza right located across the street. Burkett was the one who noticed the fire and called 911.
Pastor Dave Ennis has been leading the church for 12 years. He may have lost his church, but he hasn’t lost his spirit.
“Have to move forward,” he said. “Leaders lead in tough times.”
Ennis says even though the church is a total loss, there’s always room to rebuild.
At the time of the fire, Ennis says the choir was rehearsing for an upcoming program and volunteers were getting ready to serve the homeless, but no injuries were reported.
“Someone could have gotten injured. I’m very thankful the Lord gave us his grace that nobody got hurt,” he said.
Ennis, his members and even the fire chief say they’re confident this total loss may result in a total new church for this Millville community.
“For this to happen to him, it’s really a shame because he really did a lot for this city,” church member Michael Walker said.
Cumberland County fire officials continue to investigate the fire.
In the meantime, Sunday services will be held at the Cornbread House Restaurant in Bridgeton at 10 a.m.