Finland’s only church burns

Fire consumes Zion Lutheran Church in Finland, July 6, 2013.

Members of Zion Lutheran Church in Finland gathered Sunday to worship at the Clair Nelson Community Center after fire destroyed their church Saturday night.

The Duluth News Tribune reports a lightning strike appears to have started the destructive blaze, according to Finland Fire Chief Pete Walsh. A fire marshal continues to investigate the fire, but based on what neighbors saw and heard, Walsh said, “We’re very comfortable believing this was the result of lightning.”

Members of the Finland Volunteer Fire Department received their first report of the fire about 9 p.m. Saturday and arrived on the scene to find the church’s kitchen area in flames.

The fire quickly spread throughout the upper levels of the building.

Firefighting reinforcements from neighboring communities were called including Silver Bay, Two Harbors, Lutsen and Schroeder.

Firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading to a nearby parsonage, but Walsh said the church was a total loss.

The Zion church building dates to 1957 and was the only traditional house of worship in Finland.

As the only church venue in the community, Zion handled numerous ceremonies, including baptisms, marriages and funerals.

(Photo courtesy the Duluth News Tribune.)