MIDDLESEX, Vt. (WFFF/AP) — Flames took over a century-old church in Middlesex Wednesday morning, destroying what was the United Methodist Church. The fire quickly consumed the church.
The town landmark has served the community since 1906, though it hadn’t been used regularly during the winter months. Fire investigators are still looking into the cause, but they say it was not suspicious activity.
“It just continued to build and build in terms of the smoke coming out. And once the fire department arrived, it was shortly after that the building burst into flames,” said Middlesex resident Doug Lombard.
Lombard lives just across from the church and captured the 115-year-old place of worship engulfed in flames on his cell phone.
“We didn’t have the water that we really needed because we had a tremendous amount of flames in the building,” said Waterbury Fire Chief Gary Dillon.
Dillion, along with the Montpelier and Middlesex Fire Departments, responded to the fire. He said the church’s old structure and lack of a sprinkler system did not help. The town of Middlesex also doesn’t have a water system or hydrants.
“There was no delay in getting everyone going, it was just a matter of us calling for mutual aid until we had enough tank trucks to move the water,” said Dillon.
Patty Wiley, President of the Middlesex Historical Society says the building was a treasured place.
“It’s such a landmark because of its age and because Middlesex historically since the 1927 flood was such a small village and that Methodist church was one of the only community buildings,” said Wiley.
Like Patty, community members are saddened by Wednesday’s events.
“I was talking with some friends today whose children grew up in the church with mine in the 1990s and it’s a big loss, it’s a big personal loss too. It’s like losing a friend. And it happened so quickly, I became shortly after 11 o’ clock and it seems like it went up in flames very quickly,” said Wiley.
No one was in the church at the time of the fire. Since the pandemic, services have been cancelled.