Crews battle large church fire in Putnam Co.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. - A large fire destroyed a rural church in central Indiana despite the efforts of more than 100 firefighters amid subzero temperatures Friday.

The fire was reported about 5 a.m. at Lifespring Church along U.S. 231, about five miles north of the Putnam County city of Greencastle. Flames and smoke soon ripped through the roofs of buildings making up the church's facility.

Fire departments from Putnam, Hendricks, Parke and Clay counties responded to the scene, Putnam County Emergency Management spokesman Russ Evans told the Banner Graphic.

Evans said crews had to drive fire trucks to the nearby communities of Greencastle and Bainbridge many times to ferry water to the rural site.

"Our No. 1 enemy is the weather. It is well below zero," Evans told WTHR-TV. "There's no water supply in this area of the county, so water had to be hauled in."

No injuries were reported, and authorities didn't immediately determine what caused the fire. The blaze left little but the outer walls of the wooden structure standing, with icicles encasing much of what remained.

Richard Warren, Lifespring's youth pastor, said he was in "complete shock" about the fire and that church members aren't sure what they'll do next.

The congregation's history goes back about 180 years. The church was known as Somerset Christian until a name change in 2011.

Warren praised the work of the firefighters and said he was glad they were all safe.

"God can rebuild the church, but these people have meant a great deal to that," he said.

The fire caused officials to close U.S. 231 for several hours near the scene, about 40 miles west of Indianapolis.

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