Electrical Short Blamed For Claremore Church Fire
CLAREMORE, Oklahoma - The Claremore Fire Department says an electrical short caused the fire at Redeemer Lutheran Church Thursday night.
The fire department said the electrical arching in the attic sparked and ignited the wood frame.
The pastor was the only person inside during the fire Thursday and says he called 911 when he smelled smoke.
Church members showed up throughout the day to get a look at the damage and reflect on memories made there.
And while all of this is hard to look at, the pastor described their mood as upbeat.
Kathy Fletcher first went to Redeemer Lutheran Church in 1970 and has been coming back for more than 40 years for one reason, “It's the people - it's the people," she said.
Church members estimate hundreds of books are ruined, along with a food pantry, a kitchen and offices.
Among the rubble, Pastor Mark Burger hopes to find the parish register book inside a metal cabinet.
"That would be a joy to find,” Burger said. “Records of baptisms, marriages, confirmations that are in that book."
For now, he's choosing to focus on the positive things he does know about.
Sunday's service should go on as planned because the sanctuary is okay, despite the lingering smell of smoke.
"It might not be ideal for an elderly person, but it's not so bad," he said.
But before Sunday gets here, Burger has a message for his congregation.
He said, "We'll be fine - Christ is in control. It's thinking of them that brings tears to my eyes, but they, too, know it's just stuff, and we'll be fine."
"It's the people, not the building, and the building's gonna be replaced. So that's what we're looking forward to," she said.
The church has a backup plan for Sunday - the pastor said, three blocks away, First Christian Disciples of Christ has offered to open its doors to the congregation.
Pastor Mark Burger says a special fund has been set up with BancFirst Bank. He says those who want to contribute to the "Redeemer Lutheran Building Fund" can do so at any BancFirst location.