Update: Fire destroys First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia


By Nicole Cooke - [email protected]



Flames consume the First United Methodist Church, located at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue in downtown Sedalia, after fire started around 10 p.m. Wednesday. “I was coming from the (police) station and when I drove by (the church) I saw smoke coming from the bushes in the front,” Sedalia Police Department Officer Ryan Reed said at the scene Wednesday. “Smoke was pouring out of it. It took off like it was nothing. I called it in, and in the time it took the Sedalia Fire Department to get here everything was filled with a thick haze.”


Firefighters work to put out a portion of the blaze at First United Methodist Church, which housed rooms used for classes and Bible studies. The Sedalia Fire Department was assisted by the Pettis County Fire District.


A large portion of the church’s stone exterior wall collapsed into Osage Avenue as the fire consumed the structure, littering the streets with debris. Sedalia Police Department officers and members of the Pettis County Ambulance District helped block streets from citizens and traffic throughout the area in downtown Sedalia. The area will remain blocked until the structure is demolished today and cleanup takes place this weekend.


City Administrator Gary Edwards, Mayor Steve Galliher, Sedalia Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld and Community Development Director John Simmons watch from the sidewalk in front of ABC Advertising as firefighters work to put out the large blaze at First United Methodist Church.


The well-known red door seen on many United Methodist Churches is seen as flames fill the building behind it at First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia.


Strong winds and some sudden wind gusts helped fuel and spread the large fire quickly throughout the structure. Firefighters worked mainly on the church, but also made sure the blowing embers didn’t catch neighboring buildings on fire. A small patch of fire was spotted on the roof of Independent Electric around 12:30 a.m., but it was quickly extinguished.


The area of Fourth Street and Osage Avenue is filled with thick smoke as the wind picked up around midnight.


Firefighters are seen on the roof of a building diagonally across from First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia. Firefighters were focused on the church, but also worked to keep the blowing embers from spreading to neighboring buildings, such as US Bank, the Sedalia Water Department, the Trust Building and ABC Advertising. Many of those businesses were closed Thursday to allow crews to continue working at the scene.


The tower at the front of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia remains the tallest part of the structure after much of the wall behind it collapsed between 10 and 10:30 p.m.


By Nicole Cooke

[email protected]

Flames consume the First United Methodist Church, located at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue in downtown Sedalia, after fire started around 10 p.m. Wednesday. “I was coming from the (police) station and when I drove by (the church) I saw smoke coming from the bushes in the front,” Sedalia Police Department Officer Ryan Reed said at the scene Wednesday. “Smoke was pouring out of it. It took off like it was nothing. I called it in, and in the time it took the Sedalia Fire Department to get here everything was filled with a thick haze.”
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416Churchfire-9.jpgFlames consume the First United Methodist Church, located at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue in downtown Sedalia, after fire started around 10 p.m. Wednesday. “I was coming from the (police) station and when I drove by (the church) I saw smoke coming from the bushes in the front,” Sedalia Police Department Officer Ryan Reed said at the scene Wednesday. “Smoke was pouring out of it. It took off like it was nothing. I called it in, and in the time it took the Sedalia Fire Department to get here everything was filled with a thick haze.”

Firefighters work to put out a portion of the blaze at First United Methodist Church, which housed rooms used for classes and Bible studies. The Sedalia Fire Department was assisted by the Pettis County Fire District.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFire2-9.jpgFirefighters work to put out a portion of the blaze at First United Methodist Church, which housed rooms used for classes and Bible studies. The Sedalia Fire Department was assisted by the Pettis County Fire District.

A large portion of the church’s stone exterior wall collapsed into Osage Avenue as the fire consumed the structure, littering the streets with debris. Sedalia Police Department officers and members of the Pettis County Ambulance District helped block streets from citizens and traffic throughout the area in downtown Sedalia. The area will remain blocked until the structure is demolished today and cleanup takes place this weekend.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFire3-9.jpgA large portion of the church’s stone exterior wall collapsed into Osage Avenue as the fire consumed the structure, littering the streets with debris. Sedalia Police Department officers and members of the Pettis County Ambulance District helped block streets from citizens and traffic throughout the area in downtown Sedalia. The area will remain blocked until the structure is demolished today and cleanup takes place this weekend.

City Administrator Gary Edwards, Mayor Steve Galliher, Sedalia Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld and Community Development Director John Simmons watch from the sidewalk in front of ABC Advertising as firefighters work to put out the large blaze at First United Methodist Church.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFire4-9.jpgCity Administrator Gary Edwards, Mayor Steve Galliher, Sedalia Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld and Community Development Director John Simmons watch from the sidewalk in front of ABC Advertising as firefighters work to put out the large blaze at First United Methodist Church.

The well-known red door seen on many United Methodist Churches is seen as flames fill the building behind it at First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFire5-9.jpgThe well-known red door seen on many United Methodist Churches is seen as flames fill the building behind it at First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia.

Strong winds and some sudden wind gusts helped fuel and spread the large fire quickly throughout the structure. Firefighters worked mainly on the church, but also made sure the blowing embers didn’t catch neighboring buildings on fire. A small patch of fire was spotted on the roof of Independent Electric around 12:30 a.m., but it was quickly extinguished.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFire6-9.jpgStrong winds and some sudden wind gusts helped fuel and spread the large fire quickly throughout the structure. Firefighters worked mainly on the church, but also made sure the blowing embers didn’t catch neighboring buildings on fire. A small patch of fire was spotted on the roof of Independent Electric around 12:30 a.m., but it was quickly extinguished.

The area of Fourth Street and Osage Avenue is filled with thick smoke as the wind picked up around midnight.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFIre7-9.jpgThe area of Fourth Street and Osage Avenue is filled with thick smoke as the wind picked up around midnight.

Firefighters are seen on the roof of a building diagonally across from First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia. Firefighters were focused on the church, but also worked to keep the blowing embers from spreading to neighboring buildings, such as US Bank, the Sedalia Water Department, the Trust Building and ABC Advertising. Many of those businesses were closed Thursday to allow crews to continue working at the scene.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFire8-9.jpgFirefighters are seen on the roof of a building diagonally across from First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia. Firefighters were focused on the church, but also worked to keep the blowing embers from spreading to neighboring buildings, such as US Bank, the Sedalia Water Department, the Trust Building and ABC Advertising. Many of those businesses were closed Thursday to allow crews to continue working at the scene.

The tower at the front of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia remains the tallest part of the structure after much of the wall behind it collapsed between 10 and 10:30 p.m.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TSD030416ChurchFire9-9.jpgThe tower at the front of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Sedalia remains the tallest part of the structure after much of the wall behind it collapsed between 10 and 10:30 p.m.

The First United Methodist Church, located at 117 W. Fourth St. at the corner Fourth Street and Osage Avenue in downtown Sedalia, has been destroyed after a fire consumed the historic structure Wednesday night.

According to a Sedalia Fire Department news release, the fire began at 9:49 p.m. Wednesday and crews from the SFD, Pettis County Fire District, Sedalia Police Department and Pettis County Ambulance District were still on scene at 2 a.m. Thursday, according to Sedalia Deputy Fire Chief Greg Harrell. Roads around the area were blocked off and will most likely remain that way through Thursday, as debris from falling embers and collapsed walls covered the streets near the church.

According to Harrell, at 3 p.m. Thursday, it has been determined the church will require full demolition after fire damages received in Wednesday night’s fire. More information will be shared by the Sedalia Fire Department as soon as possible.

“I was coming from the (police) station and when I drove by (the church) I saw smoke coming from the bushes in the front,” Sedalia Police Department Officer Ryan Reed told the Democrat at the scene Wednesday. “Smoke was pouring out of it. It took off like it was nothing. I called it in, and in the time it took the Sedalia Fire Department to get here everything was filled with a thick haze.”

The SFD release states that Reed reported seeing “smoke coming from a basement window and upon investigation flames were visible in the windows.”

According to the release, the first engine arrived on scene at 9:52 p.m. — three minutes after Reed reported the fire — and firefighters observed fire showing through several upstairs windows and within minutes through the roof. SFD units used two engines and two ladder trucks to fight the fire and mutual aid from the Pettis County Fire District, which provided additional engines. The church, built in 1888, was a “total loss,” Harrell wrote in the release. Investigators from the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s office are investigating, and officials from the Department of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms are at the scene this morning.

Firefighters focused on the church structure Wednesday night, but also worked to keep neighboring buildings from catching on fire due to blowing embers from high winds and sudden strong wind gusts. A small patch of fire on the roof of Independent Electric on Kentucky Avenue was spotted but quickly extinguished. According to the National Weather Service, winds were gusting almost 30 mph Wednesday night into early Thursday morning in Sedalia.

KCP&L crews were also on scene, with several trucks in the downtown area. Electricity was turned off for portions of downtown Sedalia while fire crews battled the blaze. Residents traveling in portions of downtown Sedalia are advised to proceed with caution, as debris is still falling onto Osage Avenue and Fourth Street Thursday morning.

Several downtown businesses near the First United Methodist Church, at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue, will remain closed due to the fire that destroyed the church early Thursday morning. Closed are: US Bank, at 116 W. Fourth St., Fritz and Luper, LLC Attorneys at Law, 200 W. Fourth St., and ABC Advertising Building at 400 S. Osage Ave. According to Sedalia Water Department General Manager Charles Brosch, the Water Department, 111 W. Fourth St., will close at noon today.

Fire officials were unable to comment on the cause of the fire at the scene Wednesday night. More information will be available later today, Harrell said. No injuries have been reported.

Check back with sedaliademocrat.com for more updates throughout the day. Visit Facebook.com/SedaliaDemocrat to view a short video from Wednesday night’s fire incident.

Sedalia Democrat
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