WAKEFIELD (CBS) – A massive fire ripped through the First Baptist Church of Wakefield Tuesday night.

The church on Lafayette Street is a total loss. A witness says lightning struck the 180-foot steeple before it went up in flames.

“I saw the lightning strike the steeple, and we saw the smoke and it just went up in flames fast,” said Christian Bruno, who lives across the street.

The church caught fire around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night. Witnesses say the flames spread fast and many watched as the top of the steeple fell.

“So I ran off my back deck and I could see the church was struck by lightning,” said Noreen Evangelista. “All of a sudden it was engulfed in flames and we watched it burn and burn and burn and we heard the shingles cracking and all of a sudden it just exploded out.”

fire21 Historic Church Destroyed By Fire In Wakefield

Flames engulf First Baptist Church in Wakefield (WBZ-TV)

The fire was so intense the heat could be felt even a few streets over.

Robert Jordan was worshiping at the church on Sunday. He rushed down when he heard about the fire. “Two days ago I just went to the service 10:15 on Sunday and I’m just shocked that this church is burned down,” Jordan said.

Dozens of people filled the streets of downtown Wakefield to watch as crews put out the flames at the 150-year-old church.

The Fire Chief says there was a class going on in the church at the time but everyone was able to get out safely. No injuries have been reported.

The lightning strike occurred during an intense period of violent weather. A tornado was confirmed in Lincoln, Rhode Island earlier in the day.

Anyone who would like to donate to the church following the fire can send checks to:

First Baptist Church
8 Lafayette Street
Wakefield, MA 01880

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