PUNXSUTAWNEY, JEFFERSON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)
A historic Punxsutawney church catches fire early Monday evening, leaving the building severely damaged.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Betty Burkett, Parishioner at Albion United Methodist Church, said. “I just thought we could save it. I kept praying and praying every time that I’ve been down here that we could save our church, and they said it doesn’t look too good.”
Burkett has been going to Albion United Methodist in Punxsutawney since she was 13. She got married there at age 16.
Around 6 Monday night that little church, built in 1905 caught fire.
“The main portion of the building was brick, fortunately,” Bryan Smith, Fire Chief for the Punxsutawney Fire Department, said. “It kept most of the fire in the wooden structure in the rear and it didn’t get into the sanctuary, other than some smoke and heat.”
Fire crews say there’s fire damage in the addition of the church and smoke damage in the sanctuary. Crews were able to save many of the items from the inside.
But for Betty, most of her memories of the church were turned to ash.
“This church means the world to me,” Burkett said. “I said we’d do anything for this church.”
The fire marshal for the Punxsutawney region tells WTAJ it was too dark to investigate Monday night and he will investigate the cause of the fire first thing Tuesday morning. No one was harmed from the fire and no one was in the church when the fire started.