There’s nothing suspicious about the cause of the fire that destroyed Brandy Station’s Shiloh Baptist Church, the community’s fire chief said Sunday night.
Investigators are sifting through the historic church’s charred interior, and will likely state their conclusion early this week, said David Myers, chief of Brandy Station Volunteer Fire Department.
An insurance investigator was expected to visit Monday, the church’s pastor, the Rev. Reese Washington, said Sunday evening.
“Churches and others have volunteered use of their buildings,” Washington said in a phone interview. “There has been overwhelming support from the community, from many churches and many denominations—from churches I hadn’t even heard of. It’s been a blessing.
“Right now, we’re trying to work out a consistent place to meet until we get our church built back up,” he said.
Wayland Blue Ridge Baptist Association, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Christ Episcopal Church, the Brandy Station fire hall, and Found and Sons chapel all offered the use of their facilities so the congregation can continue its worship, he said.
By Wednesday, church leaders expect they will decide on a temporary location for services. On Sunday, members worshiped at Mount Olive.
Shiloh Baptist is located at 15055 Stevensburg Road in the village of Brandy Station in eastern Culpeper County.
Shiloh Baptist’s congregation had been growing—a mix of seniors, youth and middle-aged people, Washington said. Attendance at a typical service ranges from 65 to 80 people, sometimes more, he said.
Of the fire, Washington said: “There was no suspicious activity. That’s a good thing.”
The investigation is just getting started. One line of thinking is that the fire was caused by an electrical problem.
Two of the church’s outbuildings survived, and the congregation will rely on them to continue Shiloh’s food and clothing ministries to anyone who needs help. Washington said.
Members intend to distribute food on-site next Saturday morning, per usual, he said.
“We’ll keep helping the community,” he said.
Many of its members are older and joined when they were young folks, so “there are a lot of memories” embedded in the church, Washington said.
The church building’s cornerstone dates from 1897. Washington has been Shiloh’s pastor for 12 years.
About 30 firefighters responded to the blaze when trucks were dispatched about 6:17 p.m. Saturday. “Wagon 2 arrived to find heavy fire upon arrival,” the department reported via its Facebook page.