Church trustee: Workers using torch on roof likely sparked Sheraden fire | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Church trustee: Workers using torch on roof likely sparked Sheraden fire

Tom Davidson
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo07-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo02-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo01-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo06-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo05-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo04-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo03-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo10-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo09-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
Rich Lane, chairman of the board of trustees the Sheraden United Methodist Church talks about the church’s future on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.
1654399_web1_ptr-Sheradanfirefolo08-091119
Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
The remains of the Sheraden United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 after a fire heavily damaged the Chartiers Avenue building the day before.

Workers using a torch on the roof at Sheraden United Methodist Church likely sparked a Monday afternoon fire that caused extensive damage to the 116-year-old church, the chairman of the church’s trustee board said Tuesday.

They were working on the roof in the rear of the building, said Rich Lane, chairman of the trustees.

“Once it got under the false ceiling, there was no stopping it,” Lane said.

Pittsburgh Fire Chief Daryl Jones said the cause remains under investigation and an investigator from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms walked the scene Tuesday.

The ATF investigator wasn’t authorized to comment, but he said the bureau investigates all fires at churches.

It’s too soon to know whether the building can be repaired, but it won’t stop the church from helping the people in the neighborhood, Lane said.

“The fire does not deter the faith of that congregation. They will move forward with their ministries. Things can be repaired and replaced” the Rev. Wayne Meyer, who retired July 1 as pastor of Sheraden United Methodist Church, said Tuesday. “We are grateful that no one was seriously injured.”

Lane and other church members spent Tuesday morning walking around the water-logged and ash-stained rubble inside the building. Daylight shined into the sanctuary that was riddled with debris.

Passersby stopped to survey the damage, and people who live near the church lamented the fire.

“It’s a shame,” Patrick McGowan said. “It’s an original church in Sheraden.”

He and Bill Conroy are partners at Conroy Funeral Home, two doors down Chartiers Avenue from the church. People in the area came together to help church members and firefighters Monday night, and the outpouring of support will continue, McGowan said.

Conroy was watching from the window of the funeral home and saw workers using a torch on the roof when the fire started, he said.

A similar fire happened about 25 years ago under similar circumstances at the church, but the damage then was less severe, Conroy said.

“This is really bad. We hate to see this. This is one of the last really viable churches in the area,” Conroy said.

McGowan added that the church meant a lot to the community. It did more than just hold Sunday services.

“It served seven days a week,” McGowan said.

The church offered monthly community meals, a summer lunch program for kids, thrift shop and other programs. The Kiwanis club met there, and city officials used the building for other events as well, Lane said. The fire won’t stop the church from continuing its programs, he said.

“As the community needs it, we open it,” Lane said.

Lane said that, although the damage was extensive, he’s not considering it a total loss yet.

The church will be looking for places to continue its programs as it deals with the fire. It’s about 30 active members will worship at Christ Community Church in McKees Rocks, which was a sister church to the congregation, Lane said.

“It will be really nice to get it back up and running,” Lane said.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.