Investigators probe cause of fire that destroyed 120-year-old SWVA church

LEBANON, VA (WJHL)- In just one night a historic church built in the 1890’s is now gone, destroyed by a fire. According to investigators, the fire happened around 4 o’clock Monday afternoon in the town of Lebanon, Virginia located in Russell County.

Investigators told News Channel 11 they had to shut down Green Valley Road in front of Bascom Church to deal with the fire.

After spending much of the night battling the flames, the ground was still smoking Tuesday morning.


“There’s nothing there, it’s gone, it’s very sad,” Bascom Church member Wilma Kiser said. For her, this loss hits the very heart of her family.

“When I actually got there and saw what was going on I thought gosh you know I was raised here as a child, my grandparents went to church here my mom and dad were raised here, my kids were raised here, my great-grandson has been raised here so it was just, I think we’ve lost everything,” Kiser said.  “We had services on Sunday everything was fine when we left”

Though the church only has about 10 members now, most you talk with in Lebanon have been touched by this church in some way.

“Messages saying that you know I went there when I was a child, I went to a wedding in there. It’s sad especially right before Christmas,” Russell County EMA Director Jess Powers said.

He said the volunteer firefighters had to fight back their own emotions while fighting the fire. “They were thinking how many people have been saved, how many kids have been dedicated there, how many people have been baptized, how many funerals, how many weddings,” Powers said.

Virginia State Police, and the Russell County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the cause, the Federal Bureau of  Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also looking in to it since it is a church fire.

“Because there’s so many hate crimes and so we want to make sure that you know, they had services on Sunday, did somebody leave something on or was it intentionally arson so we don’t know at this point,” Powers said.

As investigators look in to the cause, the congregation is looking to their faith to move forward.

“You know I’ve always been taught if you pray together you’re going to stick together and I think that the Lord will see us through this I have no doubt in my mind and he’s going to be with us every step,” Kiser said.

Kiser said church members hope to come up with a plan on how to move forward after the holidays.

  • See also: Bascom Church in Lebanon destroyed by fire

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