Monday, November 21, 2011

Church fire

For years we've attended a small church in a nearby town. The church itself is just lovely.

On Thursday of last week, the girls and I were scheduled to attend a small function at church when our pastor called to cancel because there had been a fire overnight.

A fire! Suddenly the thought of our pretty little church being ruined by fire was almost more than I could bear.

But thank the good Lord above, it wasn't terribly bad. It certainly could have been worse.

What happened was this. All the wood in the inside structure needs to be cleaned and re-coated once in awhile. Our pastor and some men in our church were doing just that during the week -- up on scaffolding, applying linseed oil to the wood.

On Wednesday afternoon when they stopped work for the day, they left a pan of linseed oil and some rags indoors. It spontaneously combusted during the night.

As our pastor put it, it taught us all a harsh lesson on the combustibility of linseed oil!

Undaunted by the fact that the sanctuary was unusable, we held services in the church basement.

Inside the church, we found many of the pews, lecterns, etc. had been moved into the narthax room.

Inside the sanctuary, the scaffolding was still in place. The pews had been moved out, not because of the fire, but because of the ceiling work that was being done.

The fire was on the steps leading up to the alter.

But the eternal flame (in the safer form of an electric bulb) still burned, representing the eternal presence of God. I found this comforting.

So the congregants gathered in the church basement for services.

We even managed to rig an electronic keyboard for music.

Makeshift table with our offerings.

Thankfully the church's insurance should cover the damages, but we'll be gathering in the basement for the next couple of months at best. But that's okay. Our church is still intact, and the faithful will continue to worship here.


  1. I'm glad the damage wasn't worse and that no one was hurt. What a beautiful church!

  2. Thank Heavens no one was hurt.

    Just Me

  3. The wood ceiling is beautiful in your church, as well as the rest of the building. Thank God the damage wasn't worse!

    I've been repairing and restoring old guns for many years. I've refinished literally hundreds of rifle stocks and I learned a long time ago that linseed oil isn't the best thing to use on wood. As a matter of fact, it's the LAST thing most knowledgeable gunsmiths use.

    On old military rifles, linseed oil was almost all that was ever used, and it never dries, so it gradually builds up until the rifle stock is literally saturated with it.

    I found a product called "Tru-Oil" that is very similar to linseed oil. It applies like linseed oil and looks like linseed oil, except unlike linseed oil it dries, very quickly! Therefore there's no need to keep reapplying the linseed oil. Just wipe off the dust occasionally (and with rifle stocks, the greasy fingerprints.) --Fred

  4. i am glad that your beautiful church was not damaged any worse than it is such a beautiful building and from the pictures you can tell that it is well cared for. leaving the can of oil and rags inside the building was careless mistake...i hope that they read the directions printed on the can on how to dispose of the rags etc. so that there will be no "next time".

  5. Oooh, silly people. Know the proper use and properties of chemicals you use!!! Rags and brushes with all sorts of "stuff" on them will self-combust.

    How lucky you were that the whole well-oiled place didn't go up! There's better stuff that won't make your entire lovely little chapel an accident waiting to happen.


  6. The "Church" is the people and not the you already know! Sometimes God gives us reminders anyway :)

  7. I cannot think "oily rags" without thinking safe storage/disposal/fire hazard. It seems so ubiquitous, so common. I think it just HAS to be one of those things that is common knowledge, one of those things that everyone must know. Like part of the combined and common knowledge of the people, transmitted by telepathy or osmosis or DNA. But obviously I'm way off base; someone didn't get the memo on this one. Well, lesson learned, and praise God the damage was confined to such a small area.

    Jeff - Tucson

  8. So thankful it wasn't a worse fire. My family's 125 year old church was burned down by arson last year. A couple of teenagers out looking for things to steal. What a terrible thing to lose all that history to such a terrible deed. So glad your church building will be repaired and ready to go again soon!

  9. Isn't there an alternative to linseed oil? I thought that was old-school and there are no doubt far better substitutes. At least the damage was relatively minor,and no one was injured.

  10. Eek! Scary. So grateful no one was hurt and the damage was not worse. Jennifer in NC

  11. As I said in my earlier comment, Tru-oil is much better than linseed oil. Much SAFER. All that wood in the church saturated with linseed oil scares the pants off me! It's like a huge torch just waiting for a match. Don't know if Tru-oil comes in large amounts and if it does, if it's cheaper that way. If not, I'm sure there are other similar products available. I would tell your pastor about this ASAP, Patrice.
    Fred -- Kingman, AZ

  12. Granola ConservativeDecember 6, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    You know, I read this post thoroughly, as I have used wood stain and linseed oil over a lifetime. I didn't know just how dangerous the use of linseed or wood stain can be in common chores around the house, or even in cleaning my old tools before storage. I knew about spontaneous combustion with the rags, and so was always very careful about the rags but after reading this I will be very careful in the future:

    Your church is beautiful. Thank God it was saved from further damage.

  13. the eyernal flame will live forever