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Plans to rebuild already in motion

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church at Schwer was destroyed by fire Monday afternoon. No injury was involved. A cause hasn't been determined. Firemen were able to save the parish hall, which did sustain smoke and water damage.

Church officials made it clear they will rebuild.

The church was built in 1875.

One of the church's trustees, Bob Buhr, told WGFA News a few parishioners noticed the fire in the bell tower as they left the church just after 12:30 pm, following a funeral service.

Milford Fire Chief Frank Hines reported at least 150,000 gallons of water was used battling the flames, which kept firemen from nine departments at the scene until 8 pm.

Hines said the parish hall, built in 2008, was spared.

Firemen found the church steeple fully engulfed in flames and smoke, showing from the roof.

A mutual aid box alarm alerted several departments, bringing equipment, manpower and tankers to the scene at 1812 E and 1130 N Roads.

Hines said the parishioners heard a "popping noise;" a junction box was located at the bottom of the steeple.

Iroquois County's 9-1-1 center received multiple calls, advised by callers the church steeple was fully-involved.

Hines reported mutual aid included equipment and manpower from Woodland, Wellington, Stockland, Cissna Park, Crescent City, Sheldon, Watseka and Hoopeston. IMH Ambulance was at the scene. The Mowrey Auction Compnay also provide water supplies with tanker trucks.

Church trustee, Buhr, said the sanctuary measured about 40 by 60 feet. A church annex was about 30 by 30 feet and another entrance-way measured approximately 30 by 30 too.

94.1 FM, WGFA