MARION CENTER (KDKA) — An Indiana County church community was knocked down for the second time recently on Tuesday morning. The Harmony Grove Lutheran Church lost its pastor to cancer, and now its place of worship to flames.
The fire was first reported around 6 a.m. at the church on Five Points Road in the Borough of Creekside.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller Reports:
On Tuesday evening, police announced that they believe the fire was intentionally set.
Officials say while combing through the destruction, fire investigators found two separate spots where the fire was allegedly set. One was in the center of the basement, and the second spot was on the first floor in the altar area
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“It’s a very close knit community, so we’ve helped a lot of people, so we hope many people help us,” said Pat Wells, parishioner.
Wells said she hopes that the community helps them rebuild since the building is a total loss.
Parishioner Nancy Orr said she received the alert on her phone and was the first to arrive.
“Just as I started going up the steps, I could smell smoke, and I opened the door and it just billowed out,” said Orr. “I couldn’t see any flames, but you couldn’t even see the doors to walk into the church.”
Creekside Fire Company responded to the call, but said they didn’t have enough water.
“Our biggest difficulty is water, not having enough water out here in the country like this to fight the fires, so you start calling tanker and tanker and tanker until you get enough,” said Assistant Chief Tim Steffish.
He said more than 12 tankers needed to drive 25 to 30 miles to get to the scene of the fire.
The fire shattered the church’s windows and damaged everything inside. One firefighter suffered a minor injury.
The future of the church building remains unknown.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Pennsylvania State Police at 724-357-1960.