‘God has plans for this.’ Leesville church assesses fire damage from fireworks

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:04 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:20 PM CST
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LEESVILLE, La. (KALB) - From the front of the building, the Christian Living Fellowship Church in Leesville looks fine, but inside, it’s covered in burns, damage and soot.

Pastor Bobby Ganaway said in the early morning on New Year’s Day, trespassers lit fireworks and improperly disposed of them, causing a fire between the church and a storage shed. The fire then spread inside the building.

“It’s kind of deceiving from the front of the church, it doesn’t look like anything has been done to it,” Ganaway said. “But once you get inside, as you can see, it’s a lot of damage to the church.”

Ganaway said the most damaged parts of the church will have to be torn down. Sections of the church that were not directly burned by the fire were damaged by the smoke, soot and water used to extinguish the fire and will have to be gutted.

For now, the Christian Living Fellowship service is being held at the Leesville Fairground while the fire is being assessed. Ganaway said it’s just a matter of time before the rebuilding process can begin.

“They think, in here, it’s going to have to be brought down to the studs,” said Ganaway, standing in the sanctuary. “In the back section, where the fire originated, it’s going to have to be brought down to the concrete. It’s hard, man, it’s hard to comprehend how much money a couple of fireworks cost.”

Christian Living Fellowship hopes to begin renovating the church as soon as possible.

“We’ve been through a lot over the years, and I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s easy,” said Ganaway. “But, you know what? By the grace of God, we can do it, and we’re really a church that believes whatever the enemy has planned for destruction, God can change for his glory. So God has plans for this, and we believe something good is going to come from it.”

Investigators are still searching for the trespassers that caused the fire.

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