Summersville Police Chief John Nowak said it's too early to tell if Friday's blaze was someone's handiwork or simply an accident, such as from faulty electrical wiring.
Residents' nerves had calmed down since the arsons last year, he said. Many who stopped to look at the damage to the Salvation Army store said the blaze stirred up fear in them again. They wondered if this would turn into another string of fires.
Salvation Army Sgt. Shirley Henning and her husband, Lenny, recently retired as the Summersville directors. Shirley Henning said she started the thrift store 14 years ago after seeing a need in the community.
"Our motto was 'Soup, Soap and Salvation,'" she said.
Every week, a small congregation would meet upstairs for church services.
Barber, who also manages the Salvation Army building in Beckley, said he's looking for a temporary spot around Summersville to hold church services and sell or give away clothing and food. He rents the building and is waiting to see if the owners will pay to have it repaired.
He said the store had just received a $4,000 donation of food, hygiene products and diapers. All of that was lost to the fire. Clothing and toys inside either completely melted or caught fire. A once-white piano in the chapel is now black.
Barber said it's a miracle that no one was injured.
Anyone wishing to make donations can reach the Salvation Army in Beckley by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by visiting www.salvationarmyusa.org.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.