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Fire rips through church

Osenga: Church will go on, we will survive

Photo courtesy of Liverpool Fire and Rescue
Smoke is visible from the Niemonds Independent Church in Richfield, after a fire ripped through one side during an overnight fire Sunday.

RICHFIELD — Firefighters fought a three-alarm fire that ripped through a church early Sunday morning in Juniata County.

Around 1 a.m. fire crews from multiple counties were called to the Niemonds Independent Church in Richfield for a report of a fire.

Pastor Steve Osenga said he and his wife arrived on scene as soon as they were made aware of the fire.

“It’s one of those things, it will happen,” he said.

Osenga said while the offices and rooms are a complete loss, he is trying to keep a positive view.

“It is not the building that makes the church,” he said. “The people make the building.”

He said the cause of the fire is unknown and a fire marshal is investigating. He explained the fire started in the side where the offices and school rooms are located.

“That area is completely gone,” Osenga said. “We are lucky that some of the files were backed-up but otherwise, everything, like my books from my office, is gone.”

He said he is however, trying to keep the spirits up for himself and the members of the church.

“I am trying to encourage everyone to have faith,” Osenga said. “Places have already reached out to me to hold our services there.”

That is one thing he knows for sure, that the church will continue to have services, even if he is unsure how for the time being.

“The church will go on,” he said. “We will survive.”

Osenga was thankful that no lives were lost and that none of the first responders were injured.

“I want to thank all of the firefighters that were there,” he said. “Also the ambulances that were there just in case. Thank you all for being there for us.”

Crews responding included firefighters from Richfield, Delaware, Fayette, Thompsontown, Friendship, Reliance Hose, Freeburg, Dauntless Hook and Ladder, Millerstown and Liverpool, there were also ambulance crews from Fayette and Richfield.

The Richfield Fire Company was unable to comment as of press time Sunday.

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