Fire seriously damages historic, 200-year-old Thompson church

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THOMPSON -- A historic church in Thompson was seriously damaged after a fire Thursday night.

The call came in at around 10 p.m. for the fire at the Thompson Congregational Church on Thompson Hill Road. Mutual aid was called in from several surrounding towns, including towns in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The bulk of the fire was knocked down by morning.

The back side of the church sustained heavy damage with a partial roof collapse in that area. There is heavy fire damage in the rear of the church and extensive water damage throughout.

Nobody was inside and there were no injuries reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal. The church's head trustee said he's been told it was an electrical fire that sparked in the basement then spread up the back of the building.

"I think just seeing it is somewhat devastating. It was always my sanctuary, this church, when I was going through hard times," said Judy Eichner, who's been a member of the congregation for 30 years.

The congregation was formed back in the 1720s, and the church on Thompson Hill Road was built in the mid-1800s.

Ron Barks, a longtime congregation member and a former head trustee for the church, said he found out about the fire Friday morning when he got a call from the minister. He said it was particularly disheartening due to the large crowd they had Christmas Eve. He said he was hoping some of those new faces might return.

"Then you get the call this morning and you have to say to yourself, you know, 'Why?' So it's a sense of great loss," he said.

The church also had a fire back in the 1980s, which took down the steeple. The damage is much worse after this fire, but congregation members are hoping they will rebuild.