Fire destroys historic San Augustine church

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - Ashes and debris were scattered across the hardwood floor of the San Augustine First Methodist Church. The flames were out, but the clean-up process had only begun.

"This is probably one of the worst ones I have seen so far just because it's three stories," said Kevin McManus, Serv Pro employee. "I mean, we're going to have to dry out each one of the stories. And it's probably going to take a while to dry it all out."

McManus has worked for Serv Pro for two years, so he has seen his fair share of destruction. He said the San Augustine community made his job a little easier on Wednesday night. "We had so much help," said McManus. "I mean we couldn't have done it with everybody helping us out. Probably half the church was in here helping us last night, getting everything out. It was awesome."

Reverend Sara Barberee was at the church when the fire sparked. Bible in hand, she said she got out just in time. "I went to the stairs and had gotten about two steps down before the first chunk of fire fell. So I was very glad that I was able to get out," said Rev. Barberee.

Barberee said the fire will impact countless lives. She said many different sets of footprints have walked up and down the church's 100-year-old steps. "Families have been here for generations. I had an 82-year-old lady tell me she was baptized in that church. And my heart was breaking for them because at that point I didn't think we could salvage it and to know that their memories were in those flames and that smoke," said Rev. Barberee.

Despite everything, she believes brighter tomorrows are ahead. "This is the season of resurrection," said Rev. Barberee. "We're just going into it, but new life is springing forward and new life will spring forward for this church as well. There are blessings in there somewhere and we'll find them."

She said the fire will just become another remarkable story of faith for their historic church.