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Fire disrupts Bible school

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    Firefighters work on the roof of the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cairo.
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    A short in an electrical meter caused the fire at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cairo. Around 150 students and teacher had to be evacuated from the building on the first day of Vacation Bible School.
August 20, 2019 06:04 pm

CAIRO — An electrical fire at the Resurrection Lutheran Church on Monday morning put an abrupt halt to the first day of Vacation Bible School.

First responders were called to the scene on Route 32 at about 11:30 a.m.

“The fire alarm went off prior to our arrival and the teachers were able to get everyone out,” Cairo Fire Chief Brian Feml said. “There were no injuries to the students, the teachers or firefighters.”

Pastor Victor Nelson said he recalled the power surging on and off.

“I kept getting up to see what was going on,” he said.

A staff member then noticed that there were sparks at the pole and on the roof and called 911, Nelson said.

“We evacuated approximately 150 in about 90 seconds,” Nelson said.

The fire was caused by an electrical short circuit at the pole that brings electricity into the building, Feml said.

“The only fire was on a small section of roofing,” Feml said. “Embers dripped down off the wires and caught the rubber roof on fire.”

The church expressed its gratitude on its website for the quick thinking that helped keep the children safe.

“[We] are thankful to God for the amazing staff that evacuated the children from the building in approximately 90 seconds,” according to the church’s statement. “[We] are thankful to the Cairo Fire Department which responded so promptly and extinguished the burning in the rubber roof. [We] are thankful to the parents who picked up their children from VBS in the middle of fire trucks.”

Vacation Bible School is a five-day non-denominational program for children from age three through 6th grade to learn about God with interactive games, songs, crafts and other activities, according to the church’s website.

Youth from 7th grade and up who are members of the Resurrection Lutheran Church or other local churches can serve as teaching assistants in the program.

Ironically, the fire coincided with the theme of Monday’s lesson, Nelson said.

“The theme happened to be ‘Life is wild, but God is good,” Nelson said. “We had a wild first day but God was good and no one got hurt.”

The roof was repaired Monday, Feml said, but restoring power to the church building may take longer.

Vacation Bible School was closed Tuesday as electrical repairs were made. The church expects to hold classes again on Wednesday, according to the statement.

Cairo Fire Department, Cairo Ambulance and state police responded to the scene. Round Top Fire Department was placed on stand-by.