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.