Under the supervision of the Kalona Volunteer Fire Department, former Shiloh church complex buildings were burned on the evening of Oct. 11.
Kalona Fire Chief Jerry Zahradnek said the firemen had obtained a permit from the state DNR to do a “live fire” controlled burn of the buildings. He pointed out that the firemen from Kalona, Wellman and Riverside were able to do practice burns and rescues in the buildings over the past couple months.
There were 22 Kalona firemen on the scene from 3-11 p.m. with the fire chief staying at the site until about midnight. Firemen used shipping pallets and straw bales to help start the blaze.
Adam Kos, project manager for C.J. Monya and Sons, owner of the property, said he stayed to watch what was left.
“I was pleased to see the rain start about 3:30 a.m.,” he said. “Kalona is lucky to have such a great group of volunteer fire fighters. Very professional, very well planned out process, and the controlled burn went just as the department said it would.”
C.J. Moyna and Sons is already underway in building the Southdown development on the site of the old Shiloh church. Kos said removing the buildings was an important step in the development’s progress.
“We’re relieved to have the structure gone as it was in a dangerous state after the asbestos removal was complete, followed by lots of destruction from the police and fire department trainings,” Kos said. “Having the structure gone completely changes the landscape and the trees now pop off the horizon in a 360-degree view.”
The green house still remains, and the fire department and police departments will continue to do trainings in the structure. The green house will be demolished at a later date.
Kos pointed out that the steel from the building structure will be recycled, the concrete will be crushed and recycled, and the remaining debris will be hauled off site and disposed of at a landfill.
“Shiloh had an auction before we took possession of the building — all contents were sold. Anything remaining had to be removed before the asbestos removal process started,” Kos said. “The building was more or less empty.”
Doors and windows that were any good were salvaged. Johnson County Police department also took a number of doors for training purposes.
The Johnson County and Washington County sheriff’s offices, as well as the Kalona, Wellman and Riverside Fire Departments, trained on the site numerous times over the past six months, using the facility for breached entry, search and rescue, and low-visibility training. “