Thursday, February 5, 2009

LDS Stake Center In Logandale, Nevada Burns Down; Three Wards And 1400 Mormons Displaced, Arson Not Suspected

On February 4th 2009, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' stake center in Logandale, Nevada, approximately 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas, caught fire and burned down. As a result, three separate LDS wards constituting approximately 1400 church members are now displaced. Full stories published by the Mormon Times, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and KTNV Channel 13 in Las Vegas. Additional local perspective (and photos) available at Bev's Journeyings and the Milennial Star.

The fire broke out in a back room approximately 4 A.M. on February 4th and spread to the main facility. Sixty firefighters from Clark County, North Las Vegas and Mesquite responded quickly and were able to save an office building and church records, but the chapel itself was a total loss. Clark County fire spokesman Scott Allison says there's no immediate indication of foul play, but he said the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating because it's a church fire. Federal investigators routinely participate in the investigation of any church fire. KTNV news video embedded below:

The church, located at 3245 Moapa Valley Blvd in Logandale, is the first and oldest Mormon congregation in the area. It was first dedicated in 1951, and was of additional sentimental value because many of the members at that time personally made and laid the bricks from which it was constructed.

Ace Robison, stake president for the LDS Church in Moapa Valley, arrived on scene within 15 minutes of receiving the call. The 65-year-old Logandale native was greeted by flames erupting from the roof as the blaze moved through the attic, and found it devastating. Robison worshipped at the church for most of his life. He now oversees the 13 wards spread among five chapels in the historically Mormon farming communities of Logandale, Moapa and Overton. The region is home to 7,200 people, most of them members of the Mormon church.

"It's a terrible loss for the community," said Bryant Robison, the stake president's older brother and a lifelong Logandale resident. "It meant a lot to the community. It meant a lot to me." When he was in high school, Bryant Robison helped mix concrete and make bricks for the church every Saturday.

Susan Whipple was a toddler when the chapel was dedicated 58 years ago, and the building played a big role in her life. On February 5th, she sat on a folding chair across the street as her son, Scott, helped break apart the smoking remains of a structure her father helped build. Whipple rushed to the church around 6 A.M. about two hours after firefighters were called out.

Other wards in the area will make room for the three displaced wards until the chapel is rebuilt. It customarily takes one to two years to rebuild a chapel.

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