Multiple fire fighters were injured while attempting to put out a fire inside a Minneapolis church that was likely ignited by a lightning strike.
Of those injured, three were released Sunday with first-degree burns to their hands. Two firefighters remain at HCMC with first and second degree burns that will require additional treatment.
There were no reports of civilian injuries.
The roof of Walker Community United Methodist Church became fully engulfed in flames as severe thunderstorms made their way through the Twin Cities metro Sunday night.
Crews located the fire in the attic after smelling smoke and calling additional resources to the scene. The three-alarm fire was not fully extinguished until early Monday.
The damage to the building was extensive, and its structural integrity was so severely compromised that crews immediately began to tear down the building on Monday.
Roxanne Lynch watched from her porch as the fire burned down the historic sanctuary.
"It was sad to see something that beautiful destroyed in just a couple of hours," she said. "It was amazing at first -- it was just a little bit of smoke coming out. We never dreamed it would turn into this massive destruction."
If Mother Nature is to blame, this would be the latest in a rare streak of lightning-ignited structure fires over Memorial Day weekend.
The 103-year history of the church is rich, and the building also housed a neighborhood event center that hosted theater events. There was also a community garden on the grounds.
Pastor Walter Lockhart said the people -- not the building -- are what makes up the church, which will continue to gather. Neighboring churches are already lending support.
On Monday, many people came to take away a piece of history from the rubble. Others tried to preserve the history by coming together for the parishioners' monthly Monday night meal, which feeds between 150 and 200 people.
Lockhart told FOX 9 News he is not sure whether or not the Memorial Day meal will be the last the congregation serves up or not.
Join our Facebook family
WJBK-TV | Fox 2 16550 West Nine Mile Rd. Southfield, MI 48075
Main Station: (248) 557-2000 Newsroom: (248) 552-5103