Thursday’s fire at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in rural Shelby County may have been caused by Mother Nature. Iowa Department of Public Safety Spokesman Jim Saunders says at this point though, the exact cause is listed as undetermined.
Saunders says an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s office doesn’t believe the fire was intentionally set. There was a lot of lightening in the area the night before, and but a specific cause has not been determined. The fire at the church, located one-mile west of Jacksonville, was reported at around 10:15 AM Thursday.
Saunders says Special Agent John Ticer with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, investigated the incident. Saunders says Ticer’s report indicates no visible signs of forced entry and no overt signs it was intentionally set. Therefore, Ticer does not suspect arson.
The brick church is over 100-years old, and a new roof was installed just last year. It’s displaced congregation will hold services Sunday morning at Immanuel Lutheran church, in nearby Kimballton.