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SANDY CREEK TWP. Old church burns down



Published: Tue, April 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Damage is expected to exceed $250,000.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHEAKLEYVILLE, Pa. -- Fire has gutted a 150-year-old Sandy Creek Township landmark.

The blaze Monday morning destroyed North Salem United Methodist Church, at 333 Osborne Road, said Fire Chief Robert Shawkey.

The shell and some of the main support beams were the only things left standing. The cause is unknown, because no one has been able to enter the burned structure for fear the walls may collapse. The building was insured, Shawkey said.

A state police fire marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating, though there is nothing yet to indicate the fire might be suspicious. It is normal for the ATF to be involved in all church fires, the chief said.

Shawkey said the loss could exceed $250,000.

Pastor called: The Rev. Glea Foster, pastor of both North Salem and Sheakleyville United Methodist churches, said she got a call shortly after 4 a.m. Monday telling her the church was on fire.

"We're just getting ourselves together," she said late Monday, explaining that the church will temporarily conduct services in the Sheakleyville United Methodist Church at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Both churches have a regular attendance of about 45 people each and the Sheakleyville church really isn't big enough to hold a combined congregation, she said.

Neighbor calls: Shawkey said a neighbor spotted the fire around 3:45 a.m. and called 911.

Ten fire departments from Mercer and Crawford counties responded, he said, noting that the last firefighters cleared the scene at 12:30 p.m.




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