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Fire damages historic Williamson church

Williamson, N.Y. -- A fire damaged parts of the Free Methodist Church Sunday afternoon. About five companies, including the East Williamson Fire Department, responded to the fire. More than 40 firefighters were on the scene.

Fire officials were not able to determine the cause of the fire, but said it started in the kitchen and it may have been an electrical issue. Lead Pastor Tedd Smith said thats also part of the original building, which was built in the 1880s.

"We had one of our volunteers packing food boxes for distribution this week in the kitchen just probably within 30 minutes to the fire breaking out," Smith said.

It happened around 2:30 p.m., just hours after the 11 a.m. service had ended.

The fire destroyed the kitchen area and a months worth of food care packages for five families in need. It also did extensive damage to the childrens wing.

"It's not a monetary issue, said Smith. It's the inconvenience of not being able to minister to kids. It's pretty much our kids facility, kids theater, that we have and all our children's programming."

Fire officials also said there is smoke damage throughout the entire structure. Pastor Smith said he's not sure if the structure will be safe enough for service the following Sunday.

"There will be some work to get it restored from what we know now, but the ministry will live on in this corner here in this region, he said.

Pastor Smith said the community has rallied behind the Free Methodist Church. Food donations have already come in for the lost packages. The East Williamson Fire Department has also offered up its fire hall for Sunday services.

As for the childrens ministry, Smith said it will be moving across the street to the youth center for the time being.

 
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