Firefighters say arsonists may have finally succeeded in what they believe is the third attempt to burn an abandoned church building on Moore Hill in Corbin.
West Knox firefighters were called to the intersection of Moore Hill Ave. and Kennedy Ave. at approximately 1 a.m. Monday.
The empty building formerly housed the “City of Refuge Church,” and had also served as the home of “Grace City Church,” though it has been vacant since mid 2017.
“It was about 50 percent involved when we got there,” said West Knox Fire Chief Darryl Baker. “It didn’t take but a couple of minutes before it flashed on us and was fully involved.”
“We tried to get it out, but the roof was already caving in,” he added.
Baker said residents nearby told firefighters they had seen someone who appeared to be carrying a gas can, go into the building shortly before the fire broke out.
“They ran them off, but didn’t get a car tag number or vehicle description,” Baker said.
In addition to the flames, Baker said firefighters were battling a loose power line that had fallen onto the metal roof.
“There was no power in the building, but the line was active going up to the meter,” Baker explained.
When firefighters attempt to spray water, the water striking the metal roof caused the power line to spark.
“We had to wait for the power line to finally burn through and fall to the ground,” Baker said.
Lily firefighters were automatically paged per the departments’ mutual aid agreement. Corbin, Keavy and Bailey Switch Fire Departments were paged to provide additional manpower as firefighters worked to contain the blaze.
Approximately 25 firefighters were on the scene.
A neighboring trailer was in danger, but Baker said firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading.
“It was just about hot enough to burn your hand,” Baker said of the exterior of the trailer.
Firefighters had previously been called to scene in December 2017 after someone reported seeing white smoke coming from the rear of the building.
Baker said firefighters discovered a burning tire lying on the floor in a side room of the church. The fire had burned holes in the floor and into the wall.
Neighbors reported seeing a vehicle parked in front of the church for a short time that morning, and someone running from the rear of the building.
Baker said firefighters had been called to the scene another time, though he did not recall details of that incident.
Baker said he has contacted Kentucky State Police about Monday’s fire, but arson investigators are unlike to find much to go on since the building has burned to the ground.
“I don’t know who, exactly owns the building. I have only heard rumors,” Baker said when asked if he had been in contact with the owners.