MIDDLESEX — Only a charred black church bell and piles of blackened, burnt remains were piled up where the United Methodist Church used to stand after a fire broke out Feb. 24.
Middlesex Town Clerk Sarah Merriman called 9-1-1 at 11:07 a.m. to report seeing smoke coming out of the church, according to Montpelier Fire Department Lieutenant Chad Morse, who spoke with The Bridge by phone Feb. 26. Morse, one of the first on the scene, said when he got there he could see quite a bit of smoke coming from the steeple. It looked like it was coming out of a vent under the eaves.
He and Firefighter Daniel Peterson then entered the building with a hose line through a side door. They used the hose to spray water for nearly a quarter of an hour. “There was quite a bit of fire up in the ceiling,” Morse said, describing how the smoke was thick inside the church. Firefighters from Waterbury also entered the church. Their efforts helped, but they were not able to quash the blaze.
“It seemed to help for a little while, but the fire was so far advanced even before we got there we were not able to extinguish it,” Morse said, adding that they also ran out of water and did not have an easy water source nearby. And when they got out of the building, the fire was very far advanced.
Some of the tankers went to Waterbury to fill up with water. Morse said the building had completely burned in about an hour. Nobody was hurt during the event, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Organist Arthur Zorn remembers playing for Sunday services with Pastor Kim Marcy, when folding chairs had to be set up to hold the crowd. The church was “filled with people who really loved being there,” Zorn told The Bridge. The church had a food shelf, which was open Saturday mornings, and hosted other community gatherings.
Other news outlets reported the church was built in 1906.
Fire departments from Middlesex, Montpelier, Waterbury, Barre City, Moretown, and Waitsfield responded, Morse said.
Linda Radtke contributed to this story.