Bedford church heavily damaged in fire - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Bedford church heavily damaged in fire

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Courtesy: Kayla Umphress Courtesy: Kayla Umphress
Courtesy: Kayla Umphress Courtesy: Kayla Umphress
Courtesy: Kayla Umphress Courtesy: Kayla Umphress

Bedford - Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of a fire that gutted a Bedford church overnight.

Around midnight, the Central Church of Christ went up in flames. The church is located on 12th Street.

Firefighters say the fire began in an office area, then spread to the sanctuary and caused the roof over the pews to disintegrate.

The church's limestone walls may still be standing, but firefighters say they are very unstable because the steel frames melted in the fire.

The church was built in 1950 and has been remodeled a few times. Firefighters had to search through layers of construction just to find the seat of the fire. There were some confined spaces and hidden layers that got air, allowing the fire to travel to the main sanctuary attic, destroying the roof, according to Fire Chief Steve Haverly.

"The worst thing is we had a list inside showing all the baptisms that had happened since the early eighties and there's not a copy anywhere," said Raegan Chison, church member.

Members say the church was a second home and housed many memories of rites of passage.

"I was baptized here, been married here, brought my kids here," said Chison. "It's been 33 years - my entire life."

Church Elder Clovis Parsley says about 165 people typically attend services there and that some members were in the building Wednesday night for Bible study.

The fire was still hot when nearby churches began responding to their loss.

"There's just people pulling together and saying, hey, we'll help you anyway we can," said Darrell Simon, Central Church of Christ minister.

"I think the family that's here now's gonna be a lot stronger after something like this," said Chison.

The minister says there has been an outpouring of help from nearby churches, offering everything from bibles to songbooks to chairs - even computers and printers.

Services and Summerfest will be held at the building across the street from the church.

 - This story was compiled from a live report by Cat Andersen.

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