BISMARCK — Debris from a Monday night fire that destroyed the Walnut Corner Church of Christ in rural Bismarck was still smoldering Tuesday.
A steady stream of vehicles passed by and stopped to look at the fire scene, including one man who said his parents were buried at the Walnut Corner Cemetery on the other side of the road.
Bismarck Community Fire Protection District Chief Eric Johnson said the fire is believed to have been caused by lightning in Monday night’s storm.
The fire call came in at 5:20 p.m. Monday. The church is in the southeast corner of the fire protection district, at 2400 North and 2050 East roads.
“It’s a really old church,” Johnson said.
The church dates back many years, but was no longer being used by a church congregation.
The last few years, it was being used for weddings and family events, according to Johnson.
Upon arrival, Bismarck firefighters found the wood frame structure, that had some brick around it, totally engulfed by fire.
The fire apparently occurred right toward the end of the storm, Johnson said.
“That’s our best guess,” he said about lightning causing the fire.
There was no power or gas to the building, he said.
Bismarck responded with about 10-12 firefighters and seven fire trucks. They were on the scene for about three hours.
They were assisted by tankers from Bluegrass and Rossville Area fire protection districts and a couple of crews from Lynch Area and Kickapoo fire protection districts.
“We’ll do some local investigation. It’ll just be deemed as unknown,” Johnson said about the fire’s cause.
He said the church was open concept, with one giant auditorium-style room and a basement.
“It wasn’t very big,” he said of the building. “There was just no place for the fire to stop (and it) went quick.”
The storm that rolled through the area Monday night also caused local tree damage and power outages that continued into Tuesday.
According to Danville Public Works Director Carl Carpenter, the city had widespread, but sporadic trees and limbs down.
“Some downed trees took power lines with them,” he said.
The city had crews out Monday night to make sure roads were cleared. On Tuesday, public works employees were going back and cutting up and taking to the yard waste site all debris that was in roads or public right-of-ways.