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Historic Bonanzaville Church Damaged by Flames

St. John's Lutheran Church at Bonanzaville's Pioneer Village was heavily damaged by a fire Saturday morning.2 / 2

West Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -- Bonanzaville board members hope they can repair their historic church after flames damaged the building early this morning.

The state fire marshal's office is trying to determine what caused the more than 100-year-old church to catch fire.|

Historic St. John's church is the most recognizable building in the pioneer village at Bonanzaville.

John Monilaws/Board of Directors President: "It's kind of a cornerstone to our facility."

But now, that familiar façade is marred after flames got ahold of the century-old church.

A passerby saw the flames and called the fire department around 4:30 a.m.

Monilaws: "I didn't know what we'd have left of our church when I got here. I was pleasantly surprised, if you will, of what the fire department did to keep the structural integrity of our building still there."

West Fargo firefighters found flames bursting from the windows, the fire extending all the way from the floor to the steeple.

It took about 20 minutes to put out the visible flames, but several hours making sure the fire was extinguished.

Built in 1898, the church is well over 100 years old, and firefighters say that age and the shape of it caused some challenges when putting out the flames.

Roy Schatschneider/West Fargo Fire Chief: "We had fire up in the steeple, and of course that's a very hard place to access in the first place. And you get the dry timbers and everything and you can expect a pretty advanced fire by the time you get on scene."

Monilaws: "We feel that they've done a lot to help save what's left of our church."

Right now, there are no specific plans on what to do about the building, but they hope to get it fixed up so people can continue to visit - and get married - in the iconic church.

Bonanzaville is open for business as usual.

Firefighters have not yet determined a cause.

Becky Parker

Becky Parker - Becky Parker joined the WDAY 6 News team in July of 2012. She was born and raised in Williston, North Dakota.  She graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science.   At NDSU, Becky served as News Director for ‘SU TV News, the university’s first ever student-run newscast. She was also an anchor and reporter for the organization.   Before coming to WDAY, Becky was reporting for Lakeland Public Television at their Brainerd, MN bureau. She also spent internship hours at WDAZ in Grand Forks and KVRR Fox in Fargo.   If you have story ideas or questions, please e-mail Becky at

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