(WBIR-North Knoxville) On Thursday, the Iglesia Cristiana Restauracion church signed the lease to use an empty building in North Knoxville. Just one day later, that building would be heavily damaged from a fire.
"They just called me and told me the church was on fire. I thought it was a joke," said pastor Jessica Cueto. "But when I heard my husband crying on the phone -- I'm going to head over there."
She, her husband, and others worked on renovating the former Baptist church for the last year, to get ready for an open house this weekend. KFD said the fire started behind a refrigerator in the bottom-floor kitchen, and appears to be accidental in nature.
"Everyone's like 'why are you crying?' I go, 'it's not because of the building, It's because of all the food and clothing in there,'" Cueto added.
The upstairs sanctuary portion had smoke and water damage, but remains intact. However, the church's kitchen and other rooms suffered more severe and extensive damage. That's where the church stored food or a Saturday open house, as their welcome to the community.
"We're going to feed 500 people, rain or shine, we're going to do it," Cueto said.
However, if you think this would cancel that open house - think again, the pastor added.
"This is not over. I'm down but I'll clean myself up and go back up there. And we're going to have food for people," she said.
The event will go on Saturday morning, scheduled for 10:00 a.m.