Fire Destroys Beloved LDS Meetinghouse in Idaho

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 9 December 2016

The EastIdahoNews.com helicopter captured photos of the fire December 6 that destroyed the Swan Valley LDS meetinghouse. Photo by Stephan Rockefeller, courtesy East Idaho News.

Article Highlights

  • A fire December 6 destroyed a beloved meetinghouse in Swan Valley, Idaho.

SWAN VALLEY, IDAHO

Latter-day Saints in this eastern Idaho community are grieving the loss of a beloved meetinghouse destroyed by fire on December 6.

Flames gutted the Palisades Ward building, leaving behind little more than a few exterior brick walls and decades worth of memories.

“There have been a lot of tears,” said Ririe Idaho Stake President Boyd S. Foster. “It’s an emotional time for [Palisades Ward] members. Everyone in this valley has a connection to that building.”

A man who was inside the building tuning pianos smelled smoke and escaped without injury, said President Foster. Volunteer fire crews arrived to find flames visible from outside the building. The blaze moved quickly through the building.

“It’s a complete loss,” he added.

The EastIdahoNews.com helicopter captured photos of the fire December 6 that destroyed the Swan Valley LDS meetinghouse. Photo by Stephan Rockefeller, courtesy East Idaho News.

The EastIdahoNews.com helicopter captured photos of the fire December 6 that destroyed the Swan Valley LDS meetinghouse. Photo by Stephan Rockefeller, courtesy East Idaho News.

The EastIdahoNews.com helicopter captured photos of the fire December 6 that destroyed the Swan Valley LDS meetinghouse. Photo by Stephan Rockefeller, courtesy East Idaho News.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There is no sign of arson.

The disaster has brought together the Swan Valley community. Despite the winter cold, members gathered outside the remains of the building to swap stories and hugs. Meanwhile, the pastor of a nondenominational church in Swan Valley told local LDS leaders that the Palisades Ward is welcome to meet in her congregation’s chapel.

The meetinghouse was built in the late 1940s with funds and labor donated by local members. It served as a place of worship and community gatherings—hosting countless basketball games, wedding receptions, ward parties, and other memorable events, said President Foster.

It’s uncertain where the Palisades Ward will meet for Sunday services, at least for the near future. The Ririe Idaho Stake Conference is scheduled for December 11.

The EastIdahoNews.com helicopter captured photos of the fire December 6 that destroyed the Swan Valley LDS meetinghouse. Photo by Stephan Rockefeller, courtesy East Idaho News.