County's Only Catholic Church Destroyed in Fire - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

County's Only Catholic Church Destroyed in Fire

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CARDINGTON, Ohio -

The only Catholic Church in Morrow County was destroyed in a fire Thursday morning.

The fire occurred at the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church on U.S. 42 in Cardington at about 4:30 a.m.

"Down the road I could see a couple miles. I could see the steam and I knew that they are putting water on it and that was basically all I could see. And then there were fire trucks all lined up clear down U.S. 42," said Rev. Chuck Large.

The church appears to be a total loss.

Fire crews battled the flames for two and a half hours, using 60,000 gallons of water.

"Unfortunately, we didn't have much of a fighting chance. We did everything that we could, but with the weather and the amount of fire we came up on, there wasn't much else we could do," said Capt. Mark Carey, of the Mt. Gilead Fire Department.

According to the Mount Gilead fire chief, at least six departments responded to the scene to fight the fire.

The chief said the priest locked up the church at about 10 p.m. Wednesday as usual, and that there were no signs that anyone was inside when the fire began.

Parishioners visited the church throughout the day Thursday.

The church was built in 1973 and has more than 750 members. The parish is well known for their charity work in the community.

"Last year we gave away 2,100 pounds of food in 20 food baskets and that was just what we were preparing for. We didn't have all the food in here yet. We just started collecting it," said Large.

Kurtis Kiesel has been a member of the parish for five years. He said the tragedy will only make the church stronger.

"Normally on Thanksgiving we wouldn't all come together as a parish but I think today, I think we are coming together as a parish and we are thankful for one another," Kiesel said.

Three churches including the Friends Church in Mt.  Gilead are offering the parish a location to hold their Saturday evening mass.

U.S. 42 was closed while firefighters were on scene, and reopened shortly before 8 a.m.

There is no word on the cause of the fire, but the State Fire Marshal's Office has been called to investigate.

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