IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — Fire investigators and an insurance adjuster walked the charred halls of Zion United Methodist Church Friday after a fire broke out the day before.
Six different departments were sent to the area of Washington Street east of M-66 after Debra Hall called 911 around 5:40 p.m. Thursday. She and her husband were in the church’s basement as they prepared for their weekly soup kitchen dinner.
“All of a sudden we started smelling something burning,” Hall said. “Everybody was yelling, ‘Check the food, check the oven.’ Everything was fine in the oven.”
Hall said they saw smoke and flames visible from the stairwell, with the majority of the fire situated on the first floor of the church’s 1959 addition.
“We are all very saddened by this loss,” Previa Garland, Ionia city manager, said. “Zion United Methodist Church has been part of the community since 1885. Not only does it provide a valuable place to worship in our community, they do so much to serve many of the residents of the area.”
On Friday, Hall and a half dozen other parishioners gathered outside the church waiting anxiously to learn the results of the damage.
“I do everything for the church and I wouldn’t know what to do without it,” she said.
Trustee Chairman Randy Erson said he walked through the church after the crews left. The oldest part of the building, the sanctuary, was primarily untouched, though he said there is smoke damage and one charred ceiling beam that will need to be replaced.
The majority of the damage is isolated to the church’s back addition. Erson said that the hallway “is completely gutted.”
The fire remains under investigation.