Cheswold church destroyed by fire

CHESWOLD — A fire that broke out shortly before 1 a.m. on Monday destroyed Little Union Church at 5083 W. Denneys Road and sent three firefighters to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover, according to Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael G. Chionchio.

The injured firefighters were treated at Kent General and were all listed in good condition. There were no other injuries reported.

Firefighters from the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company, along with crews from Dover and Leipsic, encountered a large volume of fire engulfing the unoccupied Little Union Church when they arrived at the scene.

“(Unit) 433 arrived to find a one-story church with fire showing from several windows,” the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company wrote on its Facebook page. “Shortly after units arrived and were extinguishing the fire, the B side wall collapsed.

“All firefighters were quickly accounted for after the mayday was called. Three firefighters were transported to a local hospital and were treated and released with minor injuries.”

All units cleared the scene of the blaze at around 4 a.m.

The fire is being investigated by the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office.

State fire investigators were alerted and sent to the scene.

The investigators, along with federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) are searching for the fire’s origin and cause.

The BATFE response follows protocol and does not allude to the nature of the investigation.

Fire damage was estimated at $100,000.

The Little Union Church has been historically known as a place of worship for the Lenape, part of Delaware’s Native American community.

The church was located in the historic village of Fork Branch, a once thriving community.

The Fork Branch Cemetery lies adjacent to the church and many of the direct descendants of the Lenape are interred on its grounds.

 

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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