ST PAUL, Minn. — The future of an eastside St. Paul church building is uncertain following an overnight fire Tuesday that led to a partial collapse.
Assistant Fire Chief Roy Mokosso says crews were dispatched to a reported church fire on the 1000 block of Minnehaha Ave. E just after 9 p.m. They arrived to find heavy smoke and flames leaping from the second story of the Eastside Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Mokosso says firefighters immediately took a defensive approach, extinguishing the fire from outside the building before attempting to enter. The church was locked, and fire crews had to force their way inside.
The assistant chief added that there were no signs of a break-in or forced entry before crews arrived.
"We're working with St. Paul PD through the investigation process, positive signs are all the doors were secured at the time of fire," said Mokosso.
More than 50 firefighters from nine companies responded to the church fire, and were on the scene for four and a half hours, according to Mokosso. The St. Paul Department of Safety Inspections was called in to assess what is described as a partial collapse of the building.
Savannah Carlson, with the Minnesota Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists, says the building housing the church was purchased in 1969 and now has 165 members.
"At this point we are still accessing the extent of the damage, you can tell the steeple has been significantly damaged, the roof, obviously there will be water damage," she said. "I did see a preliminary report that they were able to protect our grand piano."
She went on to say, "We are working with the proper authorities to determine what started the fire and to properly assess the building. We expect to receive a final report within two to three weeks. We are so thankful that no one was present or injured at the time of the fire. The church membership will be meeting virtually this evening to decide where and how to hold services while the church building is being assessed."
At this time the cause of the fire is under investigation.
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The Seventh-day Adventist church purchased the property on August 18, 1969 and has been serving this community since then. The church provides 80 hot meals the first Sunday per month to the community. Any remaining food is handed out to the homeless in the community. There are several small Bible study and prayer groups that meet on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday that emphasize inviting local community members.
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