BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Federal investigators are in Baltimore helping to look into a four-alarm fire that destroyed a northeast Baltimore church.
Derek Valcourt has the search for a cause.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms will be assisting city investigators as they try to piece together what caused the fire that gutted the church, leaving little more than bricks standing.
Bystanders snapped a picture as fire engulfed the Northwood-Appold United Methodist Church–flames shooting through the roof.
“It was just such a loss. I’ve never seen a fire like that in my life. It was amazing,” neighbor Roy Owens said.
No one was inside the church when the fire began. An alarm system first detected the problems at about 3:20 a.m. Friday morning. Soon, more than 100 firefighters were on the scene battling what became a four alarm fire that spread to nearby buildings.
Neighbors watched in shock.
“I just said a prayer for whoever, the people that go to the church, the congregation and everybody,” said Ikea Williams, neighbor.
Firefighters worked for nearly five hours, even drenching the blaze from above, but everything inside the building was destroyed.
“The roof itself was lost. They’ve done a lot of effort to try to preserve the steeple as much as possible,” said Ian Brennan, Baltimore City Fire Spokesman.
As daylight emerged, so too did many of the church’s stunned congregants and neighbors.
“It hurts, but God is still real,” said congregation member Gwen Young.
“We are a family-oriented congregation. We have people who love each other and God and we just have to hope for the best,” said Lesley Thompson, congregation member.
“In spite of this, the good thing is the cross is still standing and untouched and the foundation is still there. So that just shows how good God is,” neighbor Kevin Thompson said.
Safety issued force the steeple’s removal. Church members hope it can restored.
The church’s pastors vows it will be rebuilt to its former glory.
“We want it to be safe, we want a solid rebuild. But we want to be back up and running as quickly as possible,” he said.
“God, we are going to rise again. Beauty from ashes,” said Michelle Parker.
Church leaders say, for now, they will continue to hold Sunday services, including services this Sunday at 10:30 a.m., inside the gymnasium auditorium of their nearby school just across the street.
Federal fire investigators routinely assist in the investigation of any fire involving a church building.
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