PRAIRIE CREEK —
The stately white steeple standing atop a hill in the distance was always the first sign that you were nearing the town of Prairie Creek in southern Vigo County.
Sadly, due to a fire Thursday night amid a driving snow storm, that steeple and a portion of one of the oldest churches in the Wabash Valley is no more.
There was no word of injuries from the fire, which was reported around 10 p.m. at the Prairie Creek First Baptist Church on Indiana 63.
The cause of the fire was not immediately know.
Renovation work had been under way at the church, as a new section was being added to the historic building.
Dozens of spectators were on the scene as of 11:30 p.m. as firefighters from all over southern Vigo County and Sullivan County continued to work at the scene, trying to save what they could of the historic church, which is a landmark in southern Vigo County.
“It’s a huge loss for the community,” said Pastor Kevin Dobson, who was standing in the falling snow along with many members of the church’s congregation, which numbers about 100. Other members of the community were also standing in the driving snowfall to watch a piece of history disappear.
“A lot of our church family has come out here,” Dobson said. “We’re like a family.”
No one was believed to have been inside the church when the fire started, Dobson said.
The fire destroyed the old section of the church, which dates back to 1875, according to a member of the congregation at the scene of the fire.
“The main sanctuary is a total loss,” Dobson told the Tribune-Star by telephone. A large part of the new section can be saved, he said.
Firefighters were forced to approach the fire amid a driving snow storm that reduced traffic all around Vigo County to a crawl Thursday night. That snowfall continued as firefighters battled the blaze late into the night.
A member of the congregation said the blaze appeared to be largely under control sometime after 11 p.m.
Dobson said his congregation will likely meet this Sunday, but acknowledged it will be a sad gathering.
“But our faith is strong,” Dobson said. “We really believe God will be glorified through all this” and, after rebuilding, there will be reason to celebrate, he said.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or email@example.com