It was 5 a.m. Friday when someone passing by the Lifespring Church, about five miles north of Greencastle off of 231 and County Road 500, noticed smoke and called the fire department.
Investigators say it appeared to have started at the west end of the building, spreading quickly. Spreading in part, because there are no water hydrants anywhere nearby.
“We’ve been hauling water from Greencastle and Bainbridge for the last several hours because this is a rural part of the county and there’s no water supply up here,” said Captain Russ Evans of the Putnam County Emergency Management Agency
Add to that subzero temperatures which made water freeze on contact, taking its toll on crews battling the blaze.
“We’ve had well over 100 firefighters on the scene and as you can imagine we need to rehab them and get them warm and keep them fresh,” said Evans.
A school bus was brought in where firefighters could get out of the cold. By daylight the extent of the damage became clear. The building was a near total loss.
“It was an old building and they’ve done a lot of remodeling and upgrading and it’s a very well established church with a few hundred members of the congregation,” said Evans.
On his Facebook page, Scott Volland, who spent nine years as pastor at Lifespring, known as Somerset Church until 2011, posted: “Destroyed by fire. But the building is not the church, the people are, & Lifespring Church is still strong in the Lord!!!”
Congregation members posted that they would let God guide them in what to do next.
The State Fire Marshall has been called in to help determine the exact cause. Investigators at the scene said that may take a few days.
24-Hour News 8 tried to contact the current pastor of the church, but were unable to reach him.