WAKEFIELD, Mass. — The First Baptist Church in Wakefield began picking up the pieces after a fire destroyed the 150-year-old structure earlier this week.
Crews began dismantling the remnants of the historic landmark in the rain Wednesday morning.
The 150-year-old building will now be torn down completely.
Just one painting hanging in the front entrance of the church was left behind, nearly untouched.
It has just a few little drips on it, but otherwise, the painting depicting Jesus Christ survived the inferno Tuesday night and now resides inside a parishioners' house.
"I'm personally taking it as a sign and a reminder that the Jesus, the Christ that we serve is still alive and even though our church building is gone our church is here and the God we serve is still here," said Maria Kakalowski, a parishioner of the church.
Although there is no official cause yet, several residents said they saw the steeple hit by lightning and set off a fire that grew quickly to seven alarms.
"I was down about a mile away and I just saw this fireball in the sky. It just went up like a tinderbox. It's a building built in 1870 and it's balloon-style so once the fire starts you know the whole building just went up quickly," the church's pastor, Reverend Doctor Norm Bendroth, said.
It is not coming down quickly, but the old church is coming down -- much to the sadness of parishioners and residents of Wakefield. The church also housed a nursery school for some 35 years.
"Our kids are sad. My middle son was in tears," said Heather McCarthy, a parent whose kids attended the nursery school.
"The kids do a Halloween parade every year that they were getting ready for. To think of it not being in this church is tough, but you know, we'll figure something out," she said.
The big priority Wednesday morning was the remains of the 180-foot spire, which partially collapsed onto the church.
The painting is serving as a source of strength for the parishioners and it may one day hang in a new church, rebuilt upon the memory of charred timbers.
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