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Fire damages church roof

October 19, 2011
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Some old wiring in the bell tower at Grace Lutheran Church in Fairmont is believed to be the cause of a fire that occurred Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters were alerted to the fire around 2:30 p.m. when an electrical worker at the scene (300 S. Grant St.) noticed smoke coming from the church roof as he worked on outdoor building lights.

"I could smell it by the fellowship hall earlier," said Steve Shane of Dewar Electric, who called 911. "I was here working on the building lights outside, and I happened to look and I saw flames on the third floor by the roof, which is odd because there's nothing up there. I was just getting ready to leave when I saw it, so I'm glad I spotted it before I left."

Article Photos

ON?THE?SCENE?— Fairmont firefighters battle a blaze at Grace Lutheran Church on Tuesday afternoon in Fairmont.

Acting Fire Chief Doug Borchardt said most of the damage was limited to the roof. He said there was minimal water damage.

"What happened was there was some sort of short that followed a lightning rod," Borchardt explained. "Normally there is no current through the lightning rod, just cable. But somehow, a current went through it."

Borchardt added that the work being done by Dewar at the time would not have caused or influenced the fire because there is no shared connection between the two areas.

No dollar amount was available for the damage when firefighters left the scene around 5 p.m.

"Fortunately, it started when someone was around," Borchardt said. "If this had happened at night, it could've been really bad."



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