PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. – Flames were jumping high off a church in southern Pulaski County Thursday night.
The massive fire destroyed the Westminster Presbyterian Church in southern Pulaski County.
While fire investigators find out what caused this blaze, members of the small church say records dating back a hundred years have been destroyed.
A lifetime of memories went up in flames for Jerry Donaldson.
“I was married here. My children were married here. My parents were buried here,” Donaldson, an elder, said.
All that’s left is Westminster Presbyterian Church’s steeple standing.
Donaldson uses only so many words to describe the fire, “Shocked, disbelief, heartbreak.” “There’s about 12 of us on a good day.”
He says the church has been here since the ’70s, but the congregation has been together since the late 1800.
“We have a hundred or so odd years worth of records that just got destroyed,” he explained.
Fire departments from three counties drenched the flames in hot temperatures Thursday night.
“We were battling not only the heat from the fire, but temperature heat, and heat in our turnout gear,” Arch Street Fire Department captain Robert Hawkins said.
Hawkins says one firefighter was sent to the hospital for heat exhaustion and others were treated on scene.
“We had multiple guys rotate through the ambulance just to cool off from heat exhaustion and check their vitals,” Hawkins said.
Investigators are now trying to find out how it started.
“We’re looking around the building to see if maybe, possibly, any accelerates were in the area,” Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Cody Burk said.
While the caused is yet to be determined, Donaldson knows his church will rebuild.
“We’re small, but we’re resilient,” Donaldson said.
The church members say they won’t have church this Sunday and the congregation will figure out what to do in the future.