Mystery ‘angel’ & firefighters’ quick work limit fire damage to Oak Grove Church

A fire damaged the tower of Oak Grove Church on Sunday night.
A fire damaged the tower of Oak Grove Church on Sunday night.(Jimmy Carpenter)
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 7:52 AM CDT
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LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - A Lamar County congregation is thankful after observant neighbors and quick-acting firefighters saved their church buildings in a late-night fire.

The fire at Oak Grove Church started around midnight on Monday. According to a message from the church, there were no injuries, and damages were limited to the top of the church’s tower between the two main buildings.

The Oak Grove Church congregation is crediting the quick response by Lamar County fire...
The Oak Grove Church congregation is crediting the quick response by Lamar County fire departments for limiting the damages to their church buildings.(Jimmy Carpenter)

“Please stop and thank our Lord for the person who saw the smoke and called the fire department,” reads the message, “and for all the firemen who worked hard to keep it contained and saved our church buildings.”

The Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene with assistance from the Southeast Lamar, Central Lamar, Northeast Lamar and Hattiesburg Fire Departments.

Pastor Ted Fine said they don’t know who reported the fire, but they would like to find out who the “angel” was that helped save the church buildings.

“There’s an angel out there that we would very much like to thank,” he said. “Someone out there watching, let us know who you are because we sure do want to give you some kudos for letting us know, for letting the fire department know. It saved us a lot of possible damage. We’re blessed that the damage is limited to our bell tower.... We’re lucky, blessed.”

Oak Grove Church, originally founded in 1934, completed work on the current buildings in 2007.

Since news of the fire spread, Fine said church and community members have reached out to offer help and words of encouragement.

“It’s really heartening to see that when it happens,” he said. “I’ve been through hurricanes. I know what it’s like to be there and need the help. We’re good, thankfully, but it’s good to have people. I’m new to the community, so it’s good to know that this community is every bit as responsive as any community that I’ve been involved with in times of disaster.

“We are grateful, you know. God is good. This could have been so much worse, and I really meant it when I said I wanted the person to call in to let us know who they are cause we would really like to thank them and let them know what their response meant for our church. Any longer, those flames could have overtaken and burnt the whole building down.”

While Fine said the church isn’t currently in need of anything, he asked for prayers so the clean-up and recovery go smoothly.

The church will be closed until clean-up is complete, but Fine said he believed the church should be able to reopen its food pantry and resume ministry services by Tuesday.

Fine added with a laugh that the Lamar County Fire Chief told him he heard his sermon brought the fire yesterday, and he thought Fine might want to tone it down a little.

The official cause of the fire, however, is under investigation.

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