'The church is probably going to have to be rebuilt,' St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson looked at the building`s charred frame. 'It took a lot of heavy damage,'
Around 10 p.m. Monday night, Radiant Life members got heartbreaking news about their church on Mclaran Avenue and Park Lane.
"You can see there used to be a lot of stained glass,' Jenkerson pointed to blackened and crumbling rectangles. 'The glass went quickly, gave it a lot of air, and the fire took off."
The fire spread to a home behind the church. A husband and wife were inside, but escaped. Firefighters saved the house and kept the church from burning to the ground. Still, neighbors were shaken by the scene and the memories.
'We have cameras in the house, and one of the cameras lit up like lightning,' said Joyce McCain. 'My husband looked in the back yard. He said, `Call the police. The church is on fire.`'
'It was a tremendous fire,' Teressie Curtis shook her head. 'It was so big. I just said, `Oh, my God!` I went to call everyone to come look. They just started screaming and hollering.'
As the sun came up, members came to the scene. They had to see what happened to their church with their own eyes.
'It became real, as we walked up here now,' Eighteen-year-old member Darrell Green stopped by on his way to Jennings High School.
'It was pretty shocking,' he said. 'Very unexpected. So now, we`re up here just trying to look at it and pray for everybody that everything turns out for the best.'
Darrell`s father, David, said pastor Illona Dickson once let hold services at Radiant Life while members recovered from their fire. Now, other churches are reaching out to Radiant Life.
'Anytime another church is in need, she always steps up to the plate and helps those churches out. No doubt, they're giving back to us,' said David, who is also a church elder.
He looked through the sanctuary from the street. One wall had collapsed.
"It's possible that we could build up from the ground, here. Let's pray and see where the Lord leads us."
Fire investigators said the church was too unsafe to allow for a complete investigation. The cause is undetermined, for now. The church`s contractor, Allied Restoration, expects a rebuild to be done in a few months.
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