Florida Church Loses Youth Building in Suspected Arson
The youth building of Page Pond Assembly of God in Altha, Florida, was destroyed by fire Tuesday night with arson being suspected as the cause.
Pastor Trent Broome says that he noticed a person running from the building about 6:40 p.m. and went to investigate.
“When I got there, I found a fire in one of the rooms,” he says. “I ran and told my wife and son to grab what they could from the parsonage as I called 911.”
The youth building is the former church building, built in the 1940s. The parsonage is connected to that building through a 10-foot breezeway, placing the home at great risk.
“By the time I made it out of the building, the windows were breaking and smoke was billowing out,” Broome says.
The fire department arrived on site within about 10 minutes, Broome estimates, but by then, the youth building was totally engulfed in flames. Although the fire department was able to keep the fire from spreading to the parsonage, the heat from the fire appears so have caused a power failure to the home.
Altha is a rural community in Calhoun County (northwest Florida) and has a population of roughly 500. Page Pond Assembly is the church home to about 10% of the community, averaging approximately 50 in weekly attendance. Broome says that the local Baptist church called to check on them and he’s already been visited by his presbyter, Lavonne Pettis. U.S. Missions Church Mobilization has also reached out to him to see what kind of help is needed.
Broome says that in addition to some sound equipment and youth resources, a lot of the church’s historical items were lost in the blaze. The new church, built in 2016, sits across the street from the old church/youth building.
“The heritage of Page Pond is in the people — not the building,” Broome posted to the church Facebook page. “We want to thank all the fire departments . . . Praise God everyone safe. Thank you for all the texts, calls and volunteers that helped us.”