Meridian Church Fire

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

Official with the Meridian Fire Department responded to a call reporting a fire on 35th Avenue at midnight of Saturday, January 9th. They arrived on scene to find the original Highland Baptist Church completely engulfed in flames.

The flames of the fire would have caught anyone's attention who was near by. It's no wonder the vacant church is considered a total loss. According to Danny Ivy, the Battalion Chief of Meridian's Fire Department, houses surrounding the church, were luckily saved thanks to the quick reaction of his crew.

"They did a really good job protecting the house adjacent to the fire scene and it was protected. It did damage the vinyl side, it busted a couple of windows, but besides that they seemed to be very thankful for all of the hard work they did last night," say Battalion Chief Danny Ivy.

Residents in the surrounding houses could not have said it better. Alfrod Wright lives in a home right next to the burnt church. He says he is happy he and his family are safe and their home is still standing.

"That comes from the good work of the fire department. They did an excellent job on soaking the house with water and their response was very accurate I believe. They did a fantastic job," complimented Wright.

A fantastic job indeed. Although the church is no longer standing, Wright and his family can say they still have a home even though it was mere feet away from the flames. Wright's mother, Irma Newell, said she was worried at first site of those flames.

"I was worried. I really was worried, but I wasn't going to let it get me down because I know what I got. I have insurance and the fire department really took good care of it. The only thing I was really worried about was getting out and I had no problem getting out. My neighbors and my kids got me out," expressed Newell.

While Newell and Wright were trying to make sure all of their family members made it out to safety, Meridian's Fire Department was hard at work trying to put out the fire. Part of that effort requires water to put out the flames. That water ended up freezing on some of the roads forcing the fire department to block off some areas.

"I believe 34th Avenue, around 17th Street and 18th Street. Everything that was going downhill from the fire scene we tried to block it off where it was ice," says Battalion Chief Ivy.

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  • by Duncan Shirley Location: Greenville, SC on Jan 12, 2010 at 07:49 PM
    My sister,Kay, brother,Norman and I grew up in that church. My Dad directed the music for years. We lived on the corner of 18th street and 34th avenue. Dr. Cecil Randall was the pastor. Many of us attended Highland Baptist. We all went to kindergarten and the GA & RA program there. Highland was part of many great moments in a lot of our developmental years. We will miss that "old building" but it gave us so many terrific, lifelong memories. Those were some good times!
  • by BOO Location: Meridian on Jan 11, 2010 at 04:31 PM
    The Meridian Fire Dept: The Poor but Proud !!! We along with the police dept(and all city depts) will continue to do our best to serve the citizens of Meridian, even while the city council and mayor wasted our promised raises on city hall and the 3ft building. No foreseen raises for the next 4 years due to money problems the city is having.
  • by Too Southern Location: Meridian on Jan 11, 2010 at 10:57 AM
    Lets see, I guess folks are in the habit of giving directions dependent on things that don't exist anymore. If you want to know where the church was located just ride up and down 35th ave. untill you see a burnt spot. I guess who, what, and where left journalism a long time ago.
  • by Jean Location: Meridian on Jan 11, 2010 at 07:29 AM
    This building was known as Emmanuel Bapt. Church in the '70s and '80s and possibly before that, and part of it served as a temporary place for Lamar students in the late '60s.
  • by wayne Location: gorrow on Jan 11, 2010 at 04:42 AM
    With the city proposing budget cuts to the fire and police departments can this level of dedication and service be continued? These men go into harms way to protect the people and property of Meridian and should not have to worry about losing budget dollars that could also include jobs. OUTSTANDING WORK MERIDIAN FIRE DEPARTMENT !!!!
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