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Baxter Bethany Church Fire


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 8/5/2019 at 16:44:46

Fire Destroys Baxter Bethany Church
Flames Raze Structure Last Night
Discovered at 11:30 O’clock; One Of The Most Modern Co. Churches
Baxter (Special to The Daily News) – Flames razed the Bethany Evangelical Reformed church, about one mile east of Baxter, in a disastrous fire last night.
The church – an all brick structure – was left a blackened shell this morning with part of the walls tumbled down. It was considered one of the most beautiful and most modern churches in the county.
Choir rehearsal had been held in the church until 10 o’clock last night. The blaze was discovered by Lavall Herzog about 11:30 o’clock while he was en route to his home from Baxter.
Herzog called at the parsonage of Rev. Armin Tendick, pastor, to give the alarm, and the Baxter Fire Department was immediately notified. The Newton Fire Department responded to the alarm at 11:50 o’clock, and the Fire Departments from State Center and Rhodes were called and were soon at the scene of the blaze. The Melbourne Fire Department was unable to answer the call.
Cause Not Known
The cause of the fire is not known, but firemen think the blaze started in the basement and might have been caused by the church furnace blower system.
Lack of water made it impossible for the firemen to fight a winning battle against the flames which had already made a great deal of headway. No other structures were near the church and there was no danger of the fire spreading
It had been reported that there was $14,000 insurance on the church and organ. The loss is estimated at more than $80,000.
Herzog, the young man who discovered the fire, had been one of the choir members at the practice earlier in the night. He had bone into Baxter after the practice. As he was driving home past the church, he noticed the flames leaping up inside, and took quick action in spreading the alarm.
The Newton Fire Department remained at the scene until about 2 o’clock this morning, and the other Fire Departments did as much as possible until the wee hours of the morning.
Second Disaster
It was the second disastrous blaze which has spoiled the Christmas season for the Bethel congregation members. On Christmas morning in 1911, while services were being held in the church, a member surmised that something was wrong. When he went to the basement, he found it in flames.
The man notified the choir and the minister of the blaze. Panic was averted when the choir calmly marched out of the building with the congregation behind them. The building, a frame structure then, was completely destroyed as the congregation, assembled for their observance of Christmas, stood outside. The present brick structure was built to replace the building destroyed in the first fire.
Source: Newton Daily News; Thursday, December 11, 1947, page 1


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