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Nashua church family unites following fire

Union Leader Correspondent

July 14. 2014 8:03PM
The chapel at Heritage Baptist Church in Nashua is covered in about an inch of water following a Sunday fire. (COURTESY)

NASHUA — Fire officials are still trying to determine the cause of Sunday’s three-alarm fire that has left a local church family temporarily displaced.

“There is no determination of cause as of yet,” Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Kerrigan said Monday. The blaze likely originated in the attic area, according to Kerrigan.

About 70 parishioners were inside the Heritage Baptist Church at 103 Lock St. when the fire ignited during a Sunday evening worship service. Everyone was able to escape the fire unharmed.

“There was some structural damage in the roof area of the building, and some of the main beams were compromised,” said Kerrigan. “They will need do some repair work, but they can rebuild.”

The blaze does not appear to be suspicious, according to fire investigators.

Pastor Larry Hileman was photographed on Monday while praying outside of the damaged church building, a photograph that was posted on the church’s Facebook page along with other pictures of the charred facility.

“These show the outside shell of a wonderful church family that is growing daily. This is also the beginning,” says the post. “ … The building is not the church — we are.”

A firefighter was able to save the Bible being used by Hileman at the time of the service, as it remained open on the pulpit.

The building, which formerly housed the Garde Rochambeau Hall, has been used by the church since 2005. There was significant fire, smoke and water damage from the blaze.

“The building can be repaired. We will rebuild,” Brian Denny, a church member, said Sunday evening while crews were still battling the fire.

It is not yet known where the church family will now congregate for services, although members are working on finding a temporary location.

“Our family is praying as we put God first in this situation,” Julie Norman Oak posted on Facebook. “What is the next step God wants us to take? Let us all continue to pray in unity for our church to seek his will.”

Rebecca Sanchez, Hileman’s daughter, said Sunday that her two young children were playing in the church nursery when the fire broke out.

“Everybody worked very well together to make sure we all got out safely before we began praying,” she said. “We are hopeful we will be able to stay in this building.”

A teenage volunteer in the nursery noticed the burning odor, detected smoke and alerted adults within the chapel around the same time the fire alarm was activated.

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