CLOVER, S.C. -- Relatives say a blanket touching a portable heater appears to be the cause of an early morning fire that destroyed a longtime pastor's house in Clover.
Sam Thompson is known throughout the community as the guy who feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless at New Beginnings Baptist Church.
His house on Old North Main Street is destroyed. Now, the folks he helps are promising to help him recover.
"As long as God knows what's going on!" Thompson shouted with a smile outside his burned home.
You could call his spirit unbreakable, especially after a tragedy that would have most people crying.
Everything inside his house, including decades of memories and mementos, is gone.
Thompson brought Nathan Whisnant into his men's shelter when Whisnant was living under a stairwell. He saw the fire and tried putting it out with an extinguisher.
"Kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Before we knew it, it took over the whole side," Whisnant said.
"Like an explosion or something," said shelter resident Lisa Fratantuono. "I started to pray immediately."
"They lost about everything they had," said Mike O'Dell with the York Baptist Association. The group set up a fund to help the Thompson family recover.
The men's and women's shelters, on both sides of Thompson's house were spared.
Those shelters are where Thompson and his wife plan to stay.
The people who give shelter now need it.
"For a man to lose everything and still thank God and be happy as he is, even after losing everything, I could only hope to be that great a man when I get that age," said Whisnant.
Five days a week, Thompson cooks meals in what's called God's Kitchen, and delivers them to 150 needy people near his church.
We learned that didn't stop, even with the fire that could have halted everything.
"I'm not going to stop working just because my house is gone," Thompson said.
The people Pastor Thompson helps are vowing to help him any way they can.
His New Beginnings Baptist Church is about to celebrate Thompson's 27 years of service to the people of Clover.
The York Baptist Association in Rock Hill has established a relief fund for the Thompson family and all donations can be made to the York Baptist Association, PO Box 36817 Rock Hill, SC 29732. Thompson Family Relief Fund should be in the memo of a check or enclosed in a note. The association will give 100 percent of all funds donated to the Thompson Family.