Fire does roughly $1M of damage to historic central Minnesota church


The community is rallying around a church following a fire that did an estimated $1 million of damage to the historic building.

A deacon running errands discovered the fire at the Church of St. Mary in Melrose around 4:45 p.m. Friday, the St. Cloud Times reports. No one was injured in the fire.

It looks as if the fire started near the sacristy, the paper says. Church maintenance worker Allan Wiechmann told the St. Cloud Times the boiler room, electrical panels and the kitchen are located below the area where the fire originated.

Damage to the church, built in 1898, is estimated at $1 million. Father Marvin Enneking says it's hard to tell what all has been affected by the heat of the fire, but the fire itself "didn't go much beyond the old, original altar," according to The Visitor, a publication put out by the Diocese of St. Cloud.

With just a few weeks until Easter, the Church of St. Mary will be holding Masses at St. John's Church in Meire Grove, the church's website says.

“People look at this [building] as the church, but in reality, we are the church,” parishioner Bob Leukam told The Visitor. “The community will get stronger. The community will come together and make this work. It just takes time and a lot of prayer.”

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the state Fire Marshal's office. Federal agents will also be contacted, which is standard procedure when there's a fire at a religious structure, FOX 9 notes.

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