WAKEFIELD, Mass. — A massive fire destroyed the First Baptist Church of Wakefield Tuesday night.
Firefighters responded to 8 Lafayette Street for a 3-alarm fire at around 7:30 p.m. and less than two hours later the fire had been upgraded to a 7-alarm.
The fire was reported shortly after the lightning storm passed through the area is believed to be the likely cause, according to the Wakefield Fire Chief Michael Sullivan.
As of 11:30 p.m., the fire was still burning through the church, and according to Chief Sullivan, crews were on scene all night.
At the time of the fire, a class was in session inside the church, but everyone made it out safely. There were no injuries reported, according to Chief Sullivan.
The current main building of the First Baptist Church of Wakefield is nearly 150 years old and a landmark of the town with its 180-foot spire.
Neighbors watched in horror as the building crumbled amid the flames.
“I grew up here and in 25 years it’s unbelievable, this is a landmark for me," said Christian Bruno. “Me and my wife were in the house and we heard a loud bang and we saw the lightning strike the building. It struck the tower and we saw the smoke and it went right up in flames, it was a fast bang it was just unbelievable."
The flames could be seen from miles.
“This church has been here forever and I love this church they just had the roof redone, it’s a beautiful church," said Matt French. "It’s sad, there are people on the block crying.”
Just before 8 p.m., the iconic spire collapsed.
The church's loss impacts several organizations that used the building, including the Tall Spire Nursery School.
“Wakefield bounces back from stuff like this so I know they will rebuild and they will go on from there," said French.
The church has been deemed as a total loss. Fire officials said the fire was too far along to be stopped by the time firefighters arrived, despite the fire station located only a mile down the street, the building was already fully involved when they arrived.
Cox Media Group