Firefighters said the pastor of a Mount Holly church was seriously injured after a home on the church grounds went up in flames early Tuesday.
Fire crews were called to the blaze around 3 a.m. at the single-story home next to the Goshen Free Will Baptist Church on West Catawba Avenue, near Pebble Creek Drive and Moses Rhyne Drive.
Gaston County Communications told Channel 9 that a man who was in the house suffered life-threatening injuries and was rushed to the hospital.
Channel 9 reporter Gina Esposito learned that man is the pastor of the church, who lived in the home with his wife and dog.
(Pastor Clayton Burch, wife Barbara Burch)
Church members identified him as Dr. Clayton Burch, who has been pastor at Goshen Free Will Baptist for seven years. His wife Barbara Burch was also home at the time and went to the hospital with her husband.
Officials said Barbara was released from the hospital later Tuesday morning and was on her way to see her husband, who was transported to a burn center in Winston-Salem with life-threatening injuries..
Church members said they were concerned about their pastor.
“He’s got a big heart, you know?” said Tyler Sauseto. “He cares about the members of his church.”
Family and friends said they are praying for the man who always made time to pray with them when they needed it most.
Channel 9 crews could see smoke rising from the building, which had extensive damage. Two vehicles were also destroyed in the fire. Investigators said more than half the building was damaged by the fire.
The fire marshal told Channel 9 that a passerby spotted the flames and stopped to ring the doorbell, alerting the pastor and his wife to get out.
Pastor Burch was taken by ambulance to Caromont Regional. Firefighters said the home did have working smoke detectors.
The fire marshal said it is still too early to tell what caused the fire, but investigators said it does not look suspicious.
Firefighters were able to control the fire in roughly 30 minutes.
West Catawba Avenue was closed while firefighters worked to put out the flames.