WAKEFIELD (CBS) – Members of a historic Wakefield church are thanking firefighters and the community for their support after a lightning strike likely sparked a massive fire Tuesday night.
A witness said lightning hit the 180-foot steeple of the First Baptist Church of Wakefield around 7 p.m. Flames quickly spread through the building and the steeple came tumbling down.
There was a class going on in the church at the time, but everyone was able to safely escape. No injuries were reported.
It took more than 100 firefighters to knock down the flames. Fire Chief Michael Sullivan said the building’s age presented challenges in fighting the fire.
“Just requires a lot of resources. The age of the building, type of construction, and the fact that there’s multiple ceilings and walls,” he said.
Donna Burns, music director for 35 years at the church, finds it hard to witness the devastation of a place she calls home. “A very special place in my heart musically, religiously, it’s just a loss, like a death in the family,” Burns said.
Interim pastor Rev. Norman Bendroth says the healing will be the most difficult for the congregation since he says the church is the cradle of many stories and memories. “It’s not the building of course, it’s the container of all these sacred memories, this is where I was baptized, or I married my daughter,” Bendroth said.
Bendroth says it’s too soon to talk about plans for the future of the site, but they’ll immediately discuss temporary places to worship to help them through the grieving process.
The church issued a statement following the fire.
While we lost our historic building from a lightning strike this week, we praise Jesus that our church community was kept safe. A very big thank you to the many firefighters who did their jobs with excellence, and to the outpouring of support from the community.
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.
Anyone who would like to donate to the church can send checks to:
First Baptist Church
8 Lafayette Street
Wakefield, MA 01880