A church in Garrattsville that dates to at least 1840 was heavily damaged in a fire only hours before services were scheduled Sunday.
The Garrattsville United Methodist Church went up in flames at dawn. The blaze is believed to be electrical in nature and appeared to have started near the service panel where electricity comes into the building, said Lyle "Butch" Jones, Otsego County's emergency services director.
The fire, which was reported at about 5:40 a.m., spread from the corner of the building to the roof and steeple, Jones said.
A metal ceiling inside the church collapsed onto the floor below, Jones said.
But fire damage to the interior of the church was limited.
"Some of the documents of the church miraculously survived," Jones said.
Among the paperwork saved was a document that indicates the church was built in 1840, he said.
Don Collison, a volunteer firefighter and parishioner of the church, said many items in the main, interior portion of the church were salvaged.
"We were very fortunate we saved most everything in the church," Collison said.
But Collison said it was sad to see the historic church damaged so badly.
The church was insured, but it is not clear how much the insurance would cover and if the parish would rebuild, Jones said.
There are between 15 to 20 attendees at the church on a regular basis, Jones said.
Garrattsville Fire Chief Keith Woodbeck said about 40 firefighters from several departments fought the blaze with a mostly exterior attack.
"It's pretty much a loss, unfortunately for them," Woodbeck said. "It's gone."
Woodbeck said parishioners and other community members were at the fire scene throughout the day Sunday.
Jones said the parish held a service in a pavilion near the church even as work there continued.
The church was usually closed during the winter months, with members holding services in the New Lisbon Town Hall, Jones said.
The congregation may be looking at using the town hall, but there also have been offers from other congregations for the use of their churches, Jones said.
There were no injuries reported among the firefighters from Garrattsville, Edmeston, West Edmeston, Morris and West Laurens who were called to the scene.
Republished with permission of The Daily Star.