Recent fires causing painful memories to surface - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Recent fires causing painful memories to surface

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) - This latest rash of church fires, for some East Texans, is bringing back painful memories. Members of the Palestine Church of the Nazarene watched in horror as their church burned to the ground in March 2006.

"The only thing left on the annex there that you see was the brick walls," said Bob Wells, a member of Church of the Nazarene.

Everything else was replaced. The pastor's office, nurseries and Sunday school rooms were all leveled.

"The sanctuary building was just smoked to the point to where we had to completely gut it and re-do it," explained Wells.

"It was devastating," said Dorothy Wells.

On Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2006, Bob Wells and his wife Dorothy watched their place of worship crumble. They have been members for more than 30 years.

"It was hard on all of our people," said Bob Wells. "It was kind of like losing a member of your family."

"There was an accelerant thrown through the office window," said Dorothy Wells. "They knew that."

Almost two weeks earlier, and less than 10 miles away from the Church of the Nazarene, the Asberry Chapel Church also burned down. It once stood on County Road 392 off Highway 84 in Anderson County. However, sadly, members of the church were unable to rebuild.

The Church of the Nazarene fire caused more than $100,000 worth of damage. But, the church was resurrected.

"The community really supported us," said Bob Wells.

The fire did not kill the spirit of the congregation. Sunday services were held at a nearby assisted living center for eight months. The church was rebuilt in a year.

"Things do get better, and you can look back on it and see that god saw you through it," said Dorothy Wells.

"These church fires that are happening now in Athens and Tyler and different places - our heart goes out to these people, because we know what they've been through," said Bob Wells.

The suspected arsonist of that fire is still at large.

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