IRONWOOD — The Ironwood Public Safety Department’s fire officer on Monday was investigating a late Saturday night fire that gutted a downtown church.
Brandon Snyder said the IPSD received an 11:44 p.m. call that there was a structure fire in the area of Lutey’s Flower Shop, near Ayer Street. It was determined the fire was coming from Peace Lutheran Church at 102 S. Mansfield St., across the street from Lutey’s.
Snyder said there were flames and smoke coming out of the east side of the wood-framed building when firefighters arrived.
The fire burned through the roof in two spots and the inside of the building appeared to be a total loss, although Snyder said the basement wasn’t as badly damaged and the structure was still standing.
The origin and cause of the fire weren’t immediately determined.
Pastor Jeffrey Ahonen said late Monday afternoon that the IPSD was still looking into possibilities of the cause. Ahonen, who was in Ladysmith, Wis., at the time of the fire, said it’s possible lightning may have struck the building. He said one church member had been in the building earlier on Saturday to drop off some kitchen supplies.
“Since the ceiling has collapsed, no one has had access to the building,” Ahonen said. He hoped his personal library in the basement might be OK, especially since many books and documents were sealed.
“We thank the IPSD for responding as quickly as they did to hold down the damages as much as they could,” he said. “No one was hurt and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
Two on-duty IPSD officers and four off-duty officers responded, in addition to 10 volunteer firefighters.
The congregation routinely gathered for worship on Sundays at 6 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.
Ahonen said since there are only about 14 church members, services will likely be rotated in homes in the near term.
He said there is insurance on the church, which opened on July 4, 2010.