Authorities investigating Masonic Lodge fire, leading member says he received an anti-Mason letter prior

Powell Valley Masonic Lodge and Mountain View United Methodist Church were destroyed after a fire on Sunday.
WVLT News at 5 pm
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 10:59 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2022 at 4:19 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced they are assisting the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office after a fire broke out at the Powell Valley Masonic Lodge and Mountain View United Methodist Church Sunday morning in Speedwell.

No one died or was injured, according to officials.

Mitchell Livesay, a neighbor who witnessed the fire, said the building was a total loss by the time Speedwell Volunteer Firefighters arrived.

“I was home when it happened, but I didn’t see anybody here until the fire was fully engulfed in flames fully burning,” Livesay said.

Gary Mayes, a leading member of the lodge, said someone had slid an anti-Mason letter under the lodge’s door in June.

“What the letter said was that you can’t be a Christian and be a Mason,” Mayes said. “We got some anti-Mason people around.”

While he wasn’t sure the letter is connected to the fire, Mayes, said the lodge was also the center of illegal activity like drug use and sales. The lodge’s owners had trouble with possible drug deals in the area, even going so far as to install a fence, cameras and lights in the parking lot.