A parishioner tells 14 News the roof that is on fire now was where Sunday classes were held.
Photo Courtesy: wesnugentcr
With flames still visible, neighbors gather around to watch firefighters combat the fire.
Firefighters dousing the roofless church. Behind the smoke the steeple in the rear is reduced to its frame.
OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) -
The Owensboro Fire Department says lightning was likely the cause of a massive overnight church fire.
Crews are still on the scene Monday night and will be until the fire underneath the rubble is fully out. The symbol of the church that steeple came tumbling down from high above Owensboro to the ground below just after 5:00 p.m. Monday night.
Firefighters say they began fighting the fire around 3 a.m. Monday at the church located on J.R. Miller Boulevard and East 7th Street.
The aftermath overwhelming for the some 600 people who called First Christian Church their church home.
"It's a really sad day for us, for our church, and also for the community here that we, you know, we're a part of and that we serve," Senior Minister Jake Caldwell said.
Caldwell says he can't stop thinking about the people who have such a strong connection to First Christian Church.
"I feel particularly for some of our members who have been a part of this congregation for generations, some of them. They've seen their kids married here, and buried family members and those kinds of things," Caldwell said.
Owensboro fire crews were called to the church just after 3:00 a.m. after a report of a lightning strike, smoke, and a possible fire in the area.
"They were met with heavy smoke and flame on the upper floors, so the engine companies retreated and this became a defensive fire as it started venting through the roof and the steeple area," Battalion Chief Steve Lenoard said.
Chief Leonard says several nearby homes had to be evacuated.
"When we're dealing with a fire of this size, once it actually gets into the structure of the building, the structural components, it becomes a danger for everybody involved," Chief Leonard said.
Church leaders are continuing to stay positive.
"The church is not a building, but it's the people that are there," Caldwell said.
There was a prayer service for parishioners on Monday night at Century Christian Church.