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An early morning fire caused severe damage to the sanctuary of Celia Phelps United Methodist Church in Greensboro, NC on Friday, August 6, 2021.



Celia Phelps UMC

An early morning fire caused severe damage to the sanctuary of Celia Phelps United Methodist Church in Greensboro, NC on Friday, August 6, 2021.



Celia Phelps UMC

An early morning fire caused severe damage to the sanctuary of Celia Phelps United Methodist Church in Greensboro, NC on Friday, August 6, 2021.

A fire caused severe damage to the sanctuary of Celia Phelps United Methodist Church early on Friday, August 6, 2021 in Greensboro, NC.

GREENSBORO – A 115-year-old church suffered “significant damage” to its sanctuary after a defective air conditioning system started a fire early Friday morning, according to the office of the Guilford County Fire Marshal.

Chief Derek Carson of the Pinecroft Sedgefield Fire Department said crews responded at around 3:20 a.m. at Celia Phelps United Methodist Church at 3709 Groometown Road after a passer-by reported seeing flames inside the church.

The firefighters arrived and found that both the sanctuary and the classroom, which are connected by a covered wind path, were on fire. The crews had the flames under control in about an hour but were on site by about noon, Carson said.

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Carson said no one was in the church at the time of the fire and no firefighters were injured fighting the fire.

“Everyone is shaken,” Carson said, referring to church members and ministers.

Although the sanctuary was “severely damaged,” the crews managed to recover items and parts from the 115-year-old building, Carson said.

According to the Guilford County Fire Marshal’s office, investigators found that the fire was due to an unspecified malfunction in the air conditioning system in the front foyer entrance area.

The cause of the fire is classified as unintentional, said the fire department.

Contact Jamie Biggs at 336-373-4476 and follow @JamieBiggsNR on Twitter.

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