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Fire destroys first Mormon church in Southern Nevada

Investigators say there is no evidence of foul play in morning Logandale blaze

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009 | 12:06 p.m.

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State Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, eulogizes the Logandale Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a Nevada Senate floor session Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, in Carson City. The church, Southern Nevada's first Mormon church, was destroyed by fire Wednesday.

Logandale church fire

Firefighters spray water on the remains of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Logandale on Wednesday. Clark County fire spokesman Scott Allison said there was no immediate indication of foul play in the 4 a.m. fire that engulfed the church. Launch slideshow »

When Acel Robison got the call that Southern Nevada's first Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in flames, he raced to the scene before daybreak only to find the handmade building engulfed in flames, he said.

Robison is the Logandale/Moapa Valley Mormon Church stake president, and he described the loss of the Logandale Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in terms of "emotional and spiritual" values. The loss in dollars is "incalcuable," he said.

"We were hopeful it could be contained in one wing, but the fire broke through the attic," Robison said.

The bishop's office was spared damage from smoke and flames and church members are hoping that the computers, hard drives and a handful of photographs survived, Robison said.

"Membership records are on computers, but it's the little things in the bishop's office that you'd miss," said Vernon Robison, son of Acel and editor of the Moapa Valley Progress, the area's newspaper.

The early morning fire destroyed the church about 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas, despite volunteer and Clark County Fire Department firefighters battling the blaze after receiving a call at about 4:11 a.m. Wednesday, said Scott Allison, spokesman for the Clark County Fire Department.

Firefighters had to fight the blaze from the outside because the heat from the flames was so intense, Allison said.

Mormon leader Brigham Young sent a small group of farmers to Logandale in late 1864 to grow cotton along the Muddy and Virgin rivers, Acel Robison said. Then the Logandale area was known as St. Joseph and the Mormon band was known as "The Muddy Mission."

The Logandale Stake was organized in 1912 and the church was built by volunteer labor, using members' money over several years, Acel Robison said. The members made all the concrete blocks for the church by hand, he said.

The Logandale Stake covered Lincoln and Clark counties in Nevada, parts of northwestern Arizona and areas into Southern California, including San Bernardino.

The fire is still under investigation, Scott Allison said. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives have been notified, which is routine whenever there is a church fire, Allison said.

There were no injuries and the church was empty at the time of the fire, Allison said.

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