Stark County church built in 1870 survives until this year; building burned to the ground days ago

Stark County church built in 1870 survives until this year; building burned to the ground days ago

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Thankfully, no one was in a church when it caught fire and completely burned earlier this week.

A 19 News crew spent the day in Osnaburg, near Canton, talking to people, getting details of what happened.

Stark County church built in 1870 survives until this year; building burned to the ground days ago

Assistant Fire Chief Amy Parker met them at the destroyed church in a remote area of Stark County.

“It was pretty well involved when we got here so it’s harder to tell then where stuff started.”

The pictures show what is left of the Wildwood Chapel Church in Osnaburg Township.

Parker fills in some of the details as they are now known.

“We were called out here Wednesday, 3 p.m. When we pulled up, the fire was already through the roof. It’s pretty far out here so it took a little while for it to be noticed.”

The Chapel, built in 1870, is in a very remote location on Hein Road where Latin and Lavender Roads meet. That’s about 20 miles Southeast of Canton.

Church burns to the ground
Church burns to the ground (Source: WOIO)

Parker said her department is keeping an eye on the structure for safety sake.

“We’ve been out here a few more times just to make sure things are continuing to be extinguished.”

It is still smoldering in several hot spots of the interior of the church.

As you can see the chapel burned totally to the ground. The only thing left standing is the chimney, but the fire department think if could come down too.

“As far as I know, someone was driving by and noticed the flames and called.”

Mike Griffith lives nearby. He saw all the smoke and curiosity got the best of him, so he drove over to take a look.

“I’m sad. It’s a church. By the time I got here, they had it pretty controlled. There was no roof left. In just one corner, I seen some flames.”

Again, Assistant Chief Parker: “We see that it is still smoldering. Is something underneath still burning? Just an older structure with some heavy timber construction and so it will just continue to smolder probably for a couple of days unless we get rain or snow on top of it. So, a heavy fire load.”

It took several hours to knock down the blaze in the church that still has an active congregation.

Parker said no one was there when the fire started.

19 News went by a residence listed for where the Pastor Timothy Prince lives, but no one was available to speak with us.

Other attempts by other media to talk with him have proven unsuccessful.

“We had units from our department come out and multiple personnel. We have no fire hydrants out here so we run a tanker shuttle. We had four other agencies with their tanker trucks out here.”

At this point, the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire to help determine how and where it started.

Assistant Osnaburg fire chief said it doesn’t appear at this time to have been started intentionally.

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