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Community steps in to help historic church that caught fire in Ionia

The incident happened Thursday afternoon at Zion United Methodist Church in downtown Ionia.

IONIA, Mich. — Community members are stepping up to help the congregation of a 140-year-old church that caught fire Thursday afternoon. 

The church was Zion United Methodist Church in downtown Ionia.

The historic part of the building, thankfully, was spared from the fire, however it was the new addition that suffered extensive damage.

Debra Hall has worked there since 2013. 

She was hosting the Soup Kitchen Thursday Diner when people suddenly noticed a burning smell and discovered the fire upstairs.

"I could see yellow from the flames and I just told him get down here, we need to get outside." 

The smoke was so thick, that the nearly two dozen people inside the addition had to evacuate.

It took six fire departments to get the fire out but luckily no one was hurt.

And the sanctuary, which was built in 1886, was spared.

"The wall between the old part and the new part is very thick because it was an outside wall. The fire was right on the backside of that. We're thankful the wall was there because otherwise it would've gone into the sanctuary." 

Although the official cause of the fire is under investigation, Hall believes an appliance, a popcorn machine, was plugged into a faulty outlet in the kitchenette.

The church is accepting donations for repairs via mail or through their PayPal account.

Hall's saddened but says the congregation will get through this small set back together.

"This is my life and we have so many we serve and people we help. Our congregation is loving and we're a family and we stick together and we take care of each other."

Sunday services will be held at a banquet hall in a nearby town.

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