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Man with special needs rescued from early morning blaze at Johnson County church

Fire Chief Shawn Wombles says it started around 9:45 a.m. at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on U.S. 319.

WRIGHTSVILLE, Ga. — A Friday morning fire destroyed a 100-year-old building -- part of a Johnson County church.

Fire Chief Shawn Wombles says it started around 9:45 a.m. at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on U.S. 319.

Wombles said Johnson County deputies and a church deacon were searching for a 30-year-old man with special needs who was missing from a nearby group home.

When they arrived at the church, they saw the fire and heard the man yelling from inside. The searchers freed the man, who was treated at Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin.

More than 100 firefighters pitched in, including crews from Laurens County and nearby state prisons. Wombles says it's the largest fire they've fought in the last few years.

The large wooden building used to be the church sanctuary, but in recent years it's served as a social hall.

Wombles says it took most of the afternoon to clean up the fire. No one was injured.

They're not sure if the man was involved in causing the fire, but they do not believe it was set intentionally. The state fire marshal's office is investigating the cause.

Wombles thanked everyone around the county who helped out, including people who brought the firefighters lunch and water.

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