LIMA — Little is left of a church in Bath Township after a fire Saturday night.
At 7:29 p.m., Bath Township Fire Department was notified of the fire at Christian Convention Center, 695 S. Leonard Ave. Bath Township Fire Chief Joe Kitchen described it as a second-alarm fire, meaning all off-duty personnel were called in to help battle the blaze.
“We had a mutual aid company [from Lima Fire Department] assisting us and Perry Township [Fire Department] is covering Bath Township while all of our units are out of service,” he said.
Upon arrival, flames were visible through the roof rising about 10 feet above it. Firefighters were notified immediately by neighbors that an individual was living inside the building and was unaccounted for, according to Kitchen. Firefighters then focused on searching the building and area for the missing person.
“People were pleading with us to find him, so we spent about the first 10 to 12 minutes on scene doing a search,” Kitchen said. “Firefighters were inside and the structure started to collapse, so the firefighters had to stop the search and come outside, so that’s when we started exterior operations.”
After assistance in the search from the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, it was discovered that no one was living in the building and no one was unaccounted for.
“The fire did get a pretty good jump on us because there was a delay of getting water on the fire because I had firefighters inside searching,” Kitchen said. “But the good news is that there wasn’t anybody hurt. No firefighters were hurt.”
Firefighters from both Bath Township and Lima were able to extinguish the flames but not before the roof was almost completely destroyed, revealing what appeared to be extreme fire damage on the building’s second floor.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Steven Wash, told Fire Department officials that a prayer group had met in the building that morning and nothing appeared out of the ordinary. The furnace was turned on earlier that day to offset the colder weather.
“At this time, the fire is under investigation and it is not suspicious,” Kitchen said.
No initial damage estimate was available at the scene. Firefighters were packing up at the scene as of 9:30 p.m.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.