Monday, January 20, 2020

Forest Hills Baptist Church destroyed by fire
A more than 100-year-old church in the Parrottsville community of Cocke County was destroyed by fire early Saturday morning. Firefighters were sent to the Forest Hills Baptist Church on Old Parrottsville Highway at about 2 am. Robert Bowers Assistant Chief of the Parrottsville Volunteer Fire Department said the first firefighters on the scene arrived to find the church fully engulfed in flames. Bowers said the cause of the blaze is undetermined and the Cocke County Sheriff's Department is being assisted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Bomb and Arson Division, in an attempt to determine the cause. A large fellowship hall adjacent to the church also was destroyed. Chief Cocke County Sheriff's Deputy Derrick Woods said the fire currently is "being treated as a normal fire", and he said there is no evidence that foul play was involved. Rev. Michael Vickers who pastors the church said the average attendance on a Sunday is in the mid 20's, mostly older members, plus community children who are brought in by church vans. He said the church was built in the early 1900's and the land was later donated in 1946 to the church. "We've been going through a time of renewal and rebuilding, and being faithful. Plans are to use the church owned community center down the road for church services, but the church will decide if it wants to rebuild and where we would rebuild," Vickers said. Church member Debra Susong said the church "has been in the community forever". She said her great-grandparents along with other prominent community members helped to found the church. "It's just a tragedy and a very sad day for the Forest Hills community," said Susong. Bowers said more than 50 firefighters from his department, the Cocke County Fire Department and units from Centerview, Caney Branch, Long Creek, Del Rio and St. James Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the blaze. Old Parrottsville Highway was closed till 7 am Saturday because of the firefighting effort. Because of the quantity of water used for the firefighting effort, Clint W. Hammonds, P.E. Water Works Manager for Newport Utilities(NU) said a water line leak developed in front of the Parrottsville Volunteer Fire Department station. "Water crews quickly responded to the scene and found that about 11 feet of pipe was ruptured," Hammonds said. Repairs took several hours to complete. NU is actively replacing cast iron mains and the Parrottsville area had previously been moved up in its repair priority. Hammonds said the Parrottsville replacement project will begin after the Industrial Road project which is scheduled to begin next fiscal year.

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

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    Thursday, February 20, 2020

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    Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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    Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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