I’ve been “at it” all day and I’m still “at it” at midnight. I just read my email messages and this story about an Old German Baptist Brethren Church destroyed by fire. By “at it,” I mean family history. I know that area, and quite possibly I have “cousins” who worship at that Church. Two days ago, I was documenting family members from that community. It’s a small, small world. https://dayton247now.com/news/local/church-damaged-in-saturday-morning-fire-in-darke-county ~~ I also received another obituary (and he is in my Ancestry database) but I recognize that I can’t approach it tonight. I must go to bed (at 12:40 AM)!!
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Darke County, Ohio (WKEF) — As many as 15 fire departments responded to a fire at a church early Saturday morning.
The fire at Shiloh Old German Baptist Brethren Church on Delisle Fourman Road in Darke County was reported about 6:30 a.m.
Tracy Mong, Pitsburg Fire Chief, said that the building is a total loss. Their volunteer department immediately called for aid from a second department. Before even arriving at the church, Mong said they had called a second-alarm, which asked for help from another department.
“It was going good when we got the call,” Mong said.
The chief said this four-alarm fire included departments from four counties. Other departments involved in the fire included Phillipsburg, Brookville, Arcanum, New Madison, Greenville Township, City of Greenville, Laura, Ludlow Falls, West Milton, and Gettysburg.
Mong said that strong wind was a factor in fanning the flames. And, with its rural location, water had to be trucked in, which complicated the attack.
Crews were about to try to make entry to fight the fire when Mong said the roof collapsed and their efforts became defensive in nature.
When asked if the fire might have been caused by a lightning strike, Mong said that investigators were on scene to try to determine that.
Evelyn Shellbarger, a member of the church, said she learned about the fire when her son, who is a firefighter, called her with the bad news.
She said that the building is just three years old, and because of COVID-19 restrictions, they had not even gotten used to the place.
Shellbarger remained optimistic, even as fire crews continued putting out hot spots inside the church.
“Well, disappointing, but I think something good will come out of it eventually,” Shellbarger said. “It will pull us all closer together, hopefully.”
There are about 80 members of the church, with about 60 children, she said.
She said the church had been built largely by donations and much of the work was done by members.
When asked what’s next for their church, Shellbarger didn’t hesitate.
“Oh, we’ll rebuild, that’s not a problem,” she said.