The Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of a fire that leveled a church in Anutt in northern Dent County Wednesday morning.
Fire crews from at least four different fire departments responded to the blaze at Anutt United Methodist Church near the intersection of Highways O and C, about 15 miles south of Rolla.
No one was in the church at the time and nobody was injured.
The Lenox Rural Fire Department, Dent County Fire Protection District, Edgar Springs Fire Protection District and Rolla Rural Fire Protection District all responded. Dent County sheriff’s deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers also responded.
Firefighters used so much water from a nearby pond that it ran dry and crews had to use tanker trucks to shuttle in water from Salem Memorial District Hospital, according to Kyle Good, of the Lenox Fire Department.
While Good was not among the first crews to arrive, when he did around 10 a.m., he said, “The building was somewhat still standing but the roof on the chapel had collapsed.”
Good said he believes the fire started in the chapel and then moved to a crawl space in the attic. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
“We were unable to save it,” Good said.
A passerby noticed the fire and reported it, Good noted.
Firefighters were still on the scene early Wednesday afternoon, pushing debris out of the way to get to underlying fires.
Barbara Loyd, pastor of the church, and Jim Swenka, chairman of the church board, watched firefighters as they worked the scene of the fire.
“We just have no idea what we’re going to do at this point,” said Loyd, noting that the church has insurance coverage.
“I don’t know what our future plans are,” Swenka said, echoing Loyd’s comments.
While Loyd said the congregation at the church was small, “they are super faithful.”
Loyd said the church has been around since at least 1890, but had since been rebuilt. She said one of the items in the church that she believes burned was a history book of the church with old newspaper clippings.
However, other items like the church membership books, are in a safe deposit box.
Swenka said he has been attending the church since the early 1980s. He noted the building had electric heating and cooling, not gas.