North Webster -- The Glory Barn --the roots of the local charismatic movement and the controversial meeting place of the Faith Assembly in the last decade was destroyed by fire early Friday. Two youngsters were injured.
North Webster, Syracuse, and Cromwell firefighters were summoned to the Glory Barn at 3:30 a.m. and battled the blaze for approximately two hours. Believing that the fire was of "suspicious origin," North Webster officials said Noble County police have requested that the State Fire Marshal assist in the investigation.
Six persons escaped from the burning two-story barn, which is located along County Road 200 South and near State Road in Noble County. Brandon Wahl carried his two sons Joel and Lee, from their bedrooms, but not before they suffered burns. Four-year-old Joel, who was transported to Kosciusko Community Hospital by a North Webster EMS ambulance crew was treated for second degree burns on his toes and back. Lee was treated at the scene for burns on his toes.
Candace Culler, who was working at the Glory Barn, told Noble County police she became alarmed when her dog started barking. She pulled an air conditioner from a window and noticed an orange glow when she glanced outside. She dashed from the room and observed Brandon carrying his sons down the steps. She told police she carried one of the youngsters to her vehicle and Wahl returned inside. Moments later he appeared with his wife, Peggy and a daughter Penny.
They went to a neighbor's house and alerted the fire department. Within minutes, an estimated 50 firemen were at the scene and spraying water on the flames. Despite their efforts, all that remains today is debris.
The fire started in a pile of lumber outside the southwest corner of the structure. The flames quickly climbed a wall and injured the two boys sleeping directly above in a bedroom. The cause of the blaze has not been determined yet.
Wahl was caretaker of the Glory Barn for Mary Beth Greider, widow and executor of the Mel Greider estate. Her husband who was founder of the Glory Barn, died earlier this year. Authorities said much of Greider's estate was being stored in the Glory Barn and was consumed by the fire.
Two bedroom suites, one living room and kitchen suites, clothes, tools, paint, lumber, and church pews were destroyed by the flames. Total damage was estimated between $80,000 and $100,000 by North Webster fire officials.
Warsaw Times Union Monday July 7, 1980