Nappanee church catches fire during Sunday school

NOW: Nappanee church catches fire during Sunday school

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NAPPANEE, Ind -- The Nappanee fire department rushed to the church fire on County Road 7, just before 10 this morning.

Members of the church were in their normal Sunday school sessions when they realized there was a fire and needed to evacuate immediately.

"We heard a buzzer that went off that was abnormal for us that was most likely now an electrical short," said First Church of God Pastor Sam Bennett.

Following the sound, Pastor Bennett says the internet went out and just seconds later, members began to panic.

"Somebody yelled there’s a fire. We ran to get some fire extinguishers but it was already out of control so we ran through the building telling everybody to get out", said Pastor Bennett.

Out of control but not yet determined if the church is a total loss.

"There’re a few sections of the church building that the fire probably didn’t get into but it’s definitely water damage and smoke damage," said Pastor Bennett.

Pastor Bennett says that this church means a lot to the community and the members as it  has been around for over 100 years and those around today, just couldn't believe what happened.

"I don’t know it’s hard to put into words what you’re feeling," said church member Jody Wakley.

Sunday's service was originally set to take place outside in the parking lot but because of cooler temperatures, they moved inside.

Church members moved salvageable items into rooms that weren't damaged by the fire.

Regardless of the outcome, Pastor Bennett says his eyes are on the future.

"Make plans for rebuilding. The church has been here for over 100 years and we will continue to minister to this community and we’ll rebuild," said Pastor Bennett.

Officials says this fire was not related to any of the recent fires in Elkhart County and they are also waiting to confirm if this church is indeed a total loss.

In addition, Pastor Bennett says they will hold service next Sunday, it's just a matter of where.

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