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Middlesex church destroyed by fire

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 12:07 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 12:37 PM EST
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MIDDLESEX, Vt. (WCAX) - The Middlesex community is mourning the loss of a historic church to a devastating fire.

The fire at the Middlesex United Methodist Church was called in shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday morning by Middlesex Town Clerk Sarah Merriman, who works right across the street. “There was a little bit of brown smoke coming from the bell tower,” Merriman said.

The first firefighters arrived in less than 15 minutes. By that time, the building was engulfed in smoke. “The issue we had for quite a while was water supply. The steeple was involved, the whole roof area was involved,” said Waterbury Fire Chief Gary Dillon.

It didn’t take long for the circa 1906 structure to become fully involved. Janet Merrill and Sharon Merchant are members of the church. “I was crying, it was a beautiful church, it was one of the nicest built churches around,” Merrill said.

“We’ve had a lot of funerals and weddings here and it’s just not easy,” added Merchant.

The congregation at the church has shrunk to only a dozen or so regulars. The pandemic and the death of the pastor last year has meant no regular services at all. But Merrill says they were to start in-person gatherings for Easter. Now, nothing is left of the historic structure.

The fire became so intense that it melted the siding of a nearby home. “It was an issue maneuvering water lines and maneuvering trucks due to the heat,” Chief Dillon said.

Six area fire departments and dozens of firefighters responded.

Merriman says there once was a day care and a food shelf in the building. She’s happy no one was injured. Our cameras captured the church just two weeks ago. “It’s what people think of when they think of white clapboard New England church,” Merriman said.

There’s no word yet on what caused the fire. Investigators are on scene looking for clues.

“I wasn’t expecting it, it still hasn’t sunken in. It won’t for a while, not for me,” Merchant said.

Dozens of firefighters are at the scene of a church fire in Middlesex.
Dozens of firefighters are at the scene of a church fire in Middlesex.(WCAX)
Dozens of firefighters are at the scene of a church fire in Middlesex.
Dozens of firefighters are at the scene of a church fire in Middlesex.(WCAX)

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