Arson suspected in Midland UMC fire
KINCAID – Arson is suspected in an Aug. 1 fire that damaged the Midland UMC and community leaders have called in federal authorities to investigate the matter.
The church, located in this Christian County community, sustained damage throughout the building and sidelined the community food pantry. The fire was discovered about 4:45 a.m. as firefighters and deputies had just put out a fire of a van located not far from the church. That fire has also been termed “suspicious.”
Despite the damage, the congregation held services Aug. 1 at Kincaid High School.
“We had a great service,” said the Rev. Linda Vonck. “The people of God are resilient, and when thing like this happen, we pull together.”
The worst damage was done to the garage, office area and the food pantry, located in the middle of the building. However, the sanctuary sustained smoke and water damage and there was a hole in the roof over the garage.
The food pantry which began in February 2009, serves around 80 families in the community.
Following the fire, the community put out appeals for food and donations to restock and replenish the food pantry as well as obtain an energy-efficient refrigerator and freezer to store the food pantry’s perishable items.
Space was temporarily made available at the Catholic Church to reopen the food pantry to the community.
The latest two fires bring the number of suspicious fires to 15 since early 2009. Prior to Aug. 1, all of the fires had occurred in vacant structures or involved vehicles.
On Aug. 2, the state fire marshal’s office called in the U.S. Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms to assist with the investigation.
The village’s mayor, Doug Thomas said many in the town are worried.
“There are people that are worried now that they’ve gone beyond empty houses,” Thomas told the Springfield State Journal-Register newspaper. “This has been going on too long, I just wish we’d find out who it is and be done. I know there’s a lot of people who are worried about it, and I understand.”
Persons who wish to make donations to the Midland Area Food Pantry may do so by sending donations to:
Midland Area Food Pantry
600 Tower Street
P.O. Box 530
Kincaid, IL 62540.