Historic Aurora church building likely a ‘total loss’ after fire

Steve Chapman

Around 75 firefighters fought this blaze in downtown Aurora Friday night. The historic building burned for more than 10 hours despite the firefighting efforts.  (Photo by Drew McNatt)

An historic building which once housed the First Christian Church in downtown Aurora was badly damaged by a fire which broke out on the evening of Friday, April 5.
The fire started at about 6:30 p.m., and was put out through the combined efforts of the Aurora City Fire Department, the Aurora Rural Fire Protection District, the Mt. Vernon Fire Protection District, the Marionville City Fire Department, the Monett City Fire Department and the Monett Rural Fire Protection District. According to a post on the Aurora Rural Fire Protection District’s Facebook page, it took 10 hours and about one million gallons of water to put out the blaze. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured in the fire.
Though the fire was put out around 3:30 a.m., crews returned to continue to hose the building’s interior throughout the day on Saturday, April 6. Captain Curt Mooneyham, of the Aurora City Fire Department, said they were returning hourly to put out hotspots which might reignite the fire. Mooneyham also said the cause of the fire is currently unknown. “It’s under investigation,” he said.
The First Christian Church closed its doors in 2013, and the building was purchased by Mirage Pet Products, which manufactures dog accessories, in 2014. Stephanie Davis, who co-owns the business with her husband, Stephen, said when they bought the building, they did so with the intention of growing their business up until the point Mirage would outgrow the location. They would then convert the church into an event venue which Davis would run with her daughters.
“My daughters and I hoped to turn it into a wedding chapel,” she said. “Having Mirage in there was kind of a temporary thing.”
Davis also said she and her husband would rebuild Mirage, but the church building’s future appears to be uncertain at this point.
“The building looks like a total loss, sadly,” she said.
While the building may have been lost, Davis said she was very grateful to the firefighters on the scene, noting many were volunteers who had just gotten off work, came to the scene and battled the blaze for 10 hours, and then went back to work the next day. She also credited them with preventing the fire from spreading to other buildings in the area.
“Our business couldn’t be saved, and that was a tragedy, but it could have been so much worse if it hadn’t been for the firefighters who were there,” Davis said. “We just really love and appreciated those guys.”


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