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'This building holds a lot of memories': Fire destroys beloved Coshocton church

The fire was reported shortly after 10 a.m. at the Grace United Methodist Church, located at 422 Walnut Street.

COSHOCTON, Ohio — Crews responded to a large fire that engulfed a Coshocton church on Friday. 

The fire was reported shortly after 10 a.m. at the Grace United Methodist Church, located at 422 Walnut Street. 

The Coshocton Fire Department responded to the scene with help from neighboring departments. In total, more than 70 firefighters from seven different fire departments helped battle the fire.

"As soon as you stepped outside you could smell the smoke," Josie Sellers with the Coshocton County Beacon told 10TV.

Fire crews were able to contain the flames and no one was injured in the process, according to Coshocton Safety Services Manager Max Crown. 

Crown initially said the church would need to be torn down, but Coshocton Fire Chief Russell Dreher later released a report which determined the church can be saved. A Columbus engineering firm is now determining on how to proceed with construction. 

"I was baptized here, I was wed here. This building holds a lot of memories, but what I feel most importantly about... a building can be replaced, human life can't," said Coshocton Mayor Mark Mills. 

Mills said he was working on the other side of town when the city's fire chief alerted him to the fire. He credits the quick response time and help from neighboring departments for quickly containing the fire before it could spread to other buildings. 

Reverend Deb Quillen says she got a call about the fire while she was at home.

"They said 'Deb the church is on fire' and they hanged up," she said.  

For Quillen, who came to this church just over a year ago, she had this message for her now churchless congregation. 

"Even though the church building is gone god is still with us. He will always be with us." 

The fire department believes the fire started on the west side of the building and investigators are leaning toward a lightning strike as the likely cause.

Firefighters believe because they responded within two minutes of the first 911 call, they kept the church from collapsing. 

The Grace United Methodist Church has operated in Coshocton since 1840, with a church at the Walnut Street location for more than 100 years, according to its Facebook page.

Photos shared by the Coshocton County Beacon can be seen below: 

Posted by The Coshocton County Beacon on Friday, May 20, 2022

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