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Priest says parishioners ‘will rise from the ashes’ as fire destroys small town church


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MUD LAKE — A Catholic church in Mud Lake appears to be a complete loss after an early morning fire Thursday.

West Jefferson Fire Control District officials say firefighters were called to St. Ann’s Catholic Church along East 1500 North just before 1 a.m.

“I smelled smoke and I was like nobody’s barbecuing at midnight, so I’m like ‘I’m going to find the source of this fire,'” said Jamie Kidd, who lives next to the church. “I was about to go get in my car to find the fire and I saw smoke coming from the church and fire in the basement window.”

Kidd said she dialed 911, which sent firefighters to the scene. It took first responders just minutes to arrive at the church, which had smoke and flames coming from inside.

Church Fire Mud Lake
Courtesy Jamie Kidd

It took firefighters around six hours to finish mopping up the flame.

“Although our beautiful and quaint church has been destroyed, the faith we have continues to be strong,” Father Ron Wekerle of St. Ann’s said in a text to “St. Ann’s is a blessed community and we will rise from the ashes. … Please keep the people of St. Ann’s in your prayers.”

The church plans to hold Sunday Mass next weekend at the usual time at the Senior Center across the street from the church.

“I met with a group of parishioners in the morning and people are sad but hopeful,” Wekerle said. “This is the time for the community to pull together and this is what is happening. Right now, we need to be thankful that no one was hurt. I would like to express my deep appreciation for the West Jefferson Fire Department and those who fought the blaze. We are grateful to them for their timely assistance.”

The Idaho State Fire Marshal has been called in to determine the cause of the fire, which remains under investigation.

People are asked to stay out of the church as the floor is unstable and the building continues to smolder.

Those interested in donating to help St. Anne’s can send checks to St. Ann’s at the St. John Paul II Parish on 145 South 9th East in Idaho Falls. Wekerle said to specify the St. Ann’s fire fund in the donation.

Church Fire01
Courtesy Father Ron Wekerle of St Ann’s and the St. John Paul II Parish
Church Fire02
Courtesy Father Ron Wekerle of St Ann’s and the St. John Paul II Parish

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.