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Church members in Camden, Illinois, come together during church fire

Fire crews responded to a call Thursday in Camden, Illinois, where flames were seen coming out of the Camden United Methodist Church.

The Schuyler County Fire Chief said crews arrived on scene at 3:30 p.m. and were still battling the fire hours later.

As crews fought the fire, dozens of residents and members of the church gathered around to show their support.

Many of them said the church holds a lot of memories and seeing it like this is something they’ll never forget.

The Camden United Methodist Church is damaged and charred from a fire that broke out Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters said flames and smoke filled the air when they arrived.

In a town of just 100 people, residents said seeing their community church damaged is tough.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” church member Linda Allen said.

Sisters Linda and Lela Allen grew up in Camden and said the church holds a lot of memories.

“I was married here twice in this church, so I’m really going to miss it,” Allen said.

“Our grandparents helped build it, so it was their church too,” Lela Allen said.

The church has served the community since 1913, which is why the community was all hands on deck, as fire crews battled the flames.

“The community got to thinking, the firefighters might need something to drink or a snack or something, since it’s supper time,” Linda Allen said. “Everyone went home and got what they had and brought it in.”

Among many community members who gathered outside of the church was the pastor of the church and he said the fire crews were able to save one very important thing from inside.

“The firefighters brought out the bible from the alter,” Pastor Dan Wise said. “It was just amazing to see that.”

Wise said it’s nice to see the support during a tough time like this.

“They brought this and the American flag,” Wise said. “The best part about it is these pages were just slightly damp. A little smoke coverage on the page there.”

A tight-knit community comes together in a time of need.

“They’ve always said, if you have a need, just let it be known and it would be here,” Linda Allen said.

“This is going to devastate some of them, greatly,” Wise said.

The fire chief with the Schuyler County Protection District said the cause of the fire is unknown and nobody was in the church at the time of the fire.

The fire chief said he plans to call in the Illinois Fire Marshal to help with the investigation.

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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