December fire doesn’t claim ‘word of God’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2001

Features Editor

Feb. 7, 2001 10 PM

The word of the Lord endureth forever.

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I Peter 1:25

When a fire blazed in the paint area of the manufacturing and assembly plant of Carter Brothers Manufacturing Company Dec. 19, 2000, employees had only minutes to clear the building.

Purses, coats and other personal belongings left behind were burned beyond recognition.

In fact, the flames were so hot the contents of the building were reduced to rubble. Metals melted and steel beams bent under the intense heat.

Days later, when the employees sifted though the ruins, hoping to find something they could salvage, they soon realized the fire had consumed everything.

Kelli Goodson, production coordinator at Carter Brothers, found the charred remains of "Christmas" for her children. Had she not known exactly where she had "hidden" the gifts, she would not have recognized the pile of ashes as "Santa Claus."

"It was unbelievable to look around and see everything destroyed," she said. "I knew that nothing could have survived that fire."

But, Goodson soon realized that she was wrong and she was in awe of what was before her.

There on a metal table, among the ashes and soot and exploded light bulbs, were two Bibles, burned but not destroyed.

"The Bible says that heaven and earth shall pass away, but the word of God will stand forever," Goodson said. "That’s what we were seeing. The pages were burned, but only around the edges. The fire burned up to the place on the pages where the word of God was written and then it stopped."

Christine Carlisle and Angie Kelley worked in that area and often sat at the table and read the Bibles, which were Gideon Bibles placed at the plant by Buren Thompson.

"The Bibles were on the table when the fire started and they were the only things that didn’t burn," Goodson said. "Other books and papers burned completely up. It was amazing."

And, even more amazing, as employees plundered through the ruins, throwing things away in an effort to assist with the clean up, Goodson began to find loose pages from the Bibles.

"They had been blown all over the area," she said. "I found them lying everywhere."

Each page she found had been burned, but, just like the bound pages, only around the edges.

"I think that if I could put the pages in order, there would be two complete Bibles here," Goodson said. "I don’t believe any of them were lost in the fire."

Goodson collected the scattered pages and put them in a box with the Bibles.

The burned Bibles are such a testimony to the word of God that Goodson knew they had to be preserved.

"As bad as the fire was, we were all so blessed," she said. "We had only minutes to get out of the building and everyone got out and no one was hurt. We lost the manufacturing and assembly plant but other buildings were saved. We knew almost immediately that the company would be built back and that took a lot of worry and stress off all of us. It could have been so much worse."

Goodson said the Bibles are a reminder that if one puts faith in God, things will work out.

"I would like to see these Bibles put in a glass case and placed somewhere in the main building as a reminder of how blessed we are," she said. "Carter Brothers, like the Bibles, has endured."