When my mother's maternal grandmother emigrated from Germany in the late 1800s, she settled in Rochester, New York. She was a widow with three small daughters, but soon remarried, and had several more children. Her family attended the local Evangelical and Reformed Church, which my mother, brother and I also joined. I believe it was in the 1950s that the church burned down; by then, I had married and moved on.
Some years ago, I was busy tracing my ancestry, and wrote to the church for any applicable records. Fortunately, the birth and death records were available, so I was able to find some information, but I was informed that the marriage records had been lost in the fire. As it turns out, one of my cousins saved the Bible and the birth/death records book. He and his father, who was a fireman, heard the alarm and raced to the church. Buddy ran into the church and rescued the books just before the place went up in an inferno.
I had asked my father to write down what information he knew about his parents and grandparents, and were there any photographs of the family. His oldest brother, Gene, had been given the family Bible and the photo albums, but they were lost when Gene's house burned down. He was able to save photos of his father and mother, which he willed to me. The photo of his mother is the only know photo of her that exists; I have had the photos restored, copied and the copies given to my aunts and uncles. I've also digitized them and given copies of them, family albums and records to my brother and my children.
My message to one and all is to place a high value on family photos, letters, diaries, documents, records, Bibles, etc. and do everything in your power to keep them from disappearing. It's the history of your family. Don't lose any part of it.