The historic First Baptist Church in Wakefield, Massachusetts has been reduced to burned-out scaffolding after it was gutted by a massive blaze, sparked by a bolt of lightning. No injuries have been reported.
The fire erupted around 7:30pm Tuesday. However, when fire engines arrived, the 180-foot landmark was already fully engulfed in flames and could not be saved. Witnesses say the fire was caused by lightning that hit the church’s steeple and spread rapidly.
“I saw the lightning strike the steeple, and we saw the smoke and it just went up in flames fast,” local Christian Bruno told CBS Boston.
Miraculously, no one was injured in the blaze, although there were classes taking place inside the church at the time.
In half an hour, the raging inferno devoured the spire of the church, which then collapsed.
Around 100 firefighters battled the blaze for hours, but close to midnight, the fire was still devouring the inside of the church. It was so fierce that the heat could be felt for several blocks and the flames could be seen on the outskirts of the city.
The building was nearly 150 years old and was a well-known attraction. The church shared its premises with several organizations, including a nursery school, a band, and an Alcoholics Anonymous group.
Meanwhile, worshippers have been mourning the loss of the church.
“This church has been here forever and I love this church, they just had the roof redone, it’s a beautiful church,” local resident Matt French told Boston 25 News. “It’s sad, there are people on the block crying.”
On its official page, the church called for donations that would be needed to rebuild the historic building from scratch.
“We know that we serve a God who specializes in restoring brokenness and who can bring beauty even from ashes. So we move into the future with trust, hope, and gratitude.”
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