Fire Destroys Historic Hannibal Church
Fire completely gutted the Antioch Baptist Church building on Tuesday. Hannibal Rural Fire personnel responded mid-afternoon to the scene south of Hannibal on Route T.
Crews arrived to find smoke billowing from the 100-plus year-old structure. The blaze soon turned into an inferno that eventually consumed the interior, roof, and steeple.
By early evening, the outside brick walls were just a shell enveloping the charred remains.
Deputy Chief Tim McClain of the Hannibal Rural Fire Protection District says Hannibal and New London Fire Departments rendered mutual aid. Over 20 personnel battled the blaze. Six tanker trucks were used along with a 2,000 gallon drop tank. A 4-inch water line supplied water to an aerial ladder truck provided by the Hannibal Fire Department. The aerial attack was used to fight flare-ups that continued into the evening.
McClain says although water was not freezing in the lines, the runoff made for slick conditions on the ground. MoDOT was called in to treat Route T and the area surrounding the church.
The Red Cross assisted firefighters by providing food and warm beverages.
Deputy Chief McClain says a propane tank near the church was in no danger of exploding. Crews shut it off and hosed it down to keep it cool.
McClain says at this time, the fire’s cause is unknown. He says the Fire Marshall will begin investigating once the blaze is completely extinguished. As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, no injuries were reported.
Media reports indicate the church pastor, Jack Emmite, had stopped by the church earlier in the afternoon and everything seemed fine.
While the loss is devastating, church member Laura Copeland expressed this sentiment : A lot of history, memories, and family records are gone, but the four walls of the building are not the body of Christ. However, for the present, it's hard to look at the ruins and not feel sick in your stomach. But ultimately, God still has big plans for the congregation.