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.