Due to the extent of fire damage at the Anutt United Methodist Church Wednesday, the cause of the blaze has not been determined yet, according to the state fire marshal’s communication director.
Investigators with the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene Thursday combing through the debris in the small community in northern Dent County.
The bureau is notified of any church fire and is called in no matter what.
Mike O’Connell, communications director with the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said, “There’s nothing considered criminal.”
While the cause remains unknown, O’Connell said, “lightning cannot be ruled out as a possibility.”
O’Connell said the Lenox Rural Fire Department and neighbors reported a storm in the area and said the fire was reported around 9:07 a.m. by a passerby.
All windows and doors to the church were secure when fire crews arrived on scene, O’Connell said. No one was in the church at the time and nobody was injured.
The north end of the structure burned down and into the basement. Kyle Good, of the Lenox Rural Fire Department, told The Rolla Daily News Wednesday that he believes the fire started in the chapel and then moved to a crawl space in the attic.
The Lenox Rural Fire Department was assisted by the Dent County Fire Protection District, Edgar Springs Fire Protection District and Rolla Rural Fire Protection District as well as the Dent County sheriff’s deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers.