Harmony Grove church fire

Greg Wharton, a firefighter from the Indiana Fire Association, removed a Bible from inside the church this morning.


WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Firefighters from numerous departments responded to a blaze that caused extensive damage to Harmony Grove Lutheran Church in Washington Township early this morning.

Creekside firefighters responded to the church along Five Points Road near Willet just before 4 a.m. for a report of smoke in a structure, according to the Indiana County Emergency Management Agency.

Soon afterward a number of other companies were called to help provide water in the rural area, including tankers from Commodore and Coal Run, as well Rayburn Township, Dayton and Kittanning Township, from Armstrong County.

Units from Rural Valley, Clymer, Plumville District, Indiana and Marion Center fire departments also were dispatched, as well as a rapid intervention team and Citizens’ Ambulance Service personnel.

Drop tank

Firefighters set up a drop tank outside the church because there are no hydrants in the area.

While the church is still standing, flames could be seen shooting from a hole through the roof, and damage inside the structure was extensive. A post on Facebook by the Marion Center department showed pictures of widespread flames at the church.

Firefighters still were at the scene as of press time today.

The church and its sister church, Grove Chapel Lutheran Church along Route 119 outside of Indiana, both are part of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The synod based in Pleasantville, Crawford County, shared a Facebook post asking, “Please keep the folks at Harmony Grove in prayer at this time — this congregation and their sister congregation have been through so much heartbreak in the last six months.”

The pastor of the two congregations, the Rev. David A. Wasemann, passed away on Oct. 31.

Interior church fire

Firefighters worked inside the church’s sanctuary.