A Go Fund Me page has been set up for a Whitley County church, which was destroyed by fire last week.
An electrical short in a window air-conditioning unit is believed to be the cause of a fire that gutted the interior of Little Cane Creek Church of God on July 6, but that didn’t keep church members from holding services that night outside the building.
“The community came together and the church members and we tried to comfort one another as best we could,” Pastor Jeff Hurst said about the makeshift service. “It is tough to see everything go up in smoke but we will pull through it … Everything can be replaced but it is just hard.”
Emlyn Volunteer Fire Chief Matt Witt said that the walls are still standing and the roof is intact but that the interior of the church was completely destroyed.
The fire was first reported to Whitley County E911 about 5:54 p.m. last Wednesday.
Witt said the fire appeared to have been burning in the sanctuary for some time before it was discovered.
Hurst, who lives behind the church, said he found out about the blaze when one of the congregation members got there a little early, noticed the fire and rushed to tell him about it.
“We had central air but with it being hot, we turned on the window unit too,” Hurst said. “When I got there, the air-conditioner in the window was on fire. I guess when it got to the floor it caught the carpet on fire and it just went from there.”
A neighbor unsuccessfully used a garden hose to try and extinguish the blaze before firefighters arrived at the scene about 6:09 p.m., Witt said.
Witt said that nearly 60 mph winds hampered the efforts of firefighters, but that they were able to extinguish the blaze within six minutes after arriving at the church.
No one was in the building when the fire started and no one was injured during the blaze.
A total of 16 firefighters from Emlyn and Pleasant volunteer fire departments and Williamsburg Fire and Rescue were on the scene until 6:56 p.m.
Firefighters were able to save several musical instruments, which were locked in another room.
In addition, some bibles were partially saved, including one that belonged to the father of one of the congregation members. The cover was burnt and the edges were charred but the pages were still intact, Hurst said.
In addition, firefighters were also able to save the church’s prayer box where members would fill up prayer requests and put them inside.
“The prayer box was charred on the outside but the prayer requests were still in tack. We’ll still continue to keep it. It never got full for some reason,” Hurst noted.
Hurst said that the church, which has been there since the mid-1970s, would rebuild. At this time, he doesn’t know where they will meet for services in the meantime.
Hurst thanked firefighters for all their efforts.
“They did all they can do. We appreciate everything that they have done,” he added.
The church is located off Highway 2986 about one mile from US25W near the Emlyn coal tipple.
So far $485 has been raised of the $10,000 goal set up on the Little Cane Creek COG Building Fund page on Go Fund Me that was started on July 7. A total of nine people have made donations.
“This church has been a beacon of hope and a place of worship since the mid 1970s, it was a place where everyone felt like family; even if they were strangers. You can just imagine the church’s and the community’s devastation,” the page reads.