Downtown Raleigh church saved from massive fire

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The downtown Raleigh church was saved from Thursday's monstrous fire

A church in downtown Raleigh damaged by drifting embers from the big Thursday night fire has its own place among the history of the worst fires in the Capital City.

The lead pastor at Edenton Street United Methodist rushed to the building Thursday night and watched as flaming embers rained down on the property a block away from the inferno that consumed the Metropolitan apartments which were still under construction.

Embers are still stuck to the AstroTurf in the church's courtyard.

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"It was so eerily quiet and yet so incredibly chaotic watching the embers land," Reverend Bob Bauman told ABC11 before services Sunday.

The main building survived with almost no damage, but the recently renovated youth center annex across Dawson Street right next to the blaze has holes in the roof and water and smoke damage to the tune of $150,000.

READ MORE: The search for answers continues after monstrous downtown Raleigh fire

Still church officials are counting their blessings.

Bauman said, "We are so blessed, fortunate, whatever word you want to use to escape relatively unscathed compared to what so many folks are dealing with."

Like the residents of Link apartments and the Quorum just across the street from the fire scene. Sunday, 83 of those residents were escorted back to their homes long enough to see what they could salvage.

And all the while, federal, state, and local investigators were again combing the rubble to try to figure out what started the blaze some historians say is the worst in the Capital City in nearly 100 years.

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Residents displaced by the Raleigh fire were allowed home Sunday to gather belongings

Another of the worst fires downtown happened in July of 1956. Lightning struck Edenton Street United Methodist and burned it to the ground.

Many elderly members of the church remember it well including 88-year-old Mildred Dillon.

"It was a scary time," Dillon told ABC11. "And so when this fire happened it was really scary for those of us who remember the first one."

But this time, the church was spared thanks to firefighters who kept it and many others wet to protect them from the raging inferno.

So Sunday, Dillon, whose father-in-law rebuilt the church in 1958, came to worship with a prayer of thanks even though the church's youth center was damaged.

"It can be fixed and nobody was lost. No lives were lost. And that's a blessing. So we do have blessings," she said.

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