Historic church shows extensive damage after steeple fire

We're getting a closer look at the extensive damage a steeple fire caused at an historic Portsmouth church

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- A church in Portsmouth's historic Olde Towne district that caught fire last week suffered heavy damage, but is structurally sound.

The steeple of Monumental United Methodist Church became fully engulfed in flames on January 3, after a propane torch that was being used to weatherproof it came in contact with wood.

13News Now spoke with the church's Pastor, Reverend Megan Saucier about the damage. 

She was out of town in Louisiana visiting family when the church went up in flames. She was seeing pictures and monitoring calls. 

"The initial ones where the steeple was still standing but on fire, that was a difficult sight to see," Saucier said. "The past couple of days have been fairly overwhelming, just fielding all the questions and concerns," 

PHOTOS: Historic Monumental United Methodist Church on fire

The damage is apparent enough on the outside, and now the church is giving a first look at how the sanctuary fared on the inside.

In a post made on its Facebook page Thursday night, the church showed pictures of extensive damage to the floors, walls, ceiling tiles and the stained glass window leading to the belfry.

"We owe a lot of thanks to the property restoration company," the Facebook post read. "They have prevented further water damage by pulling up carpets, removing pews, covering affected areas with plastic, and helped limit damage to the sanctuary floor, pews, and altar."

PHOTOS: Damage inside Monumental United Methodist Church after fire

The pictures show multiple blowers and tube-like cylinders blowing warm air in an effort to dry out the church. The Nativity Scene and the church's beloved organ are both undamaged.

Saucier thanks the community for their unwavering support. 

"To me, that just shows what Old Towne Portsmouth is and the support we had from our neighbors," she said. 

Monumental United Methodist Church is on the National Register of Historic Places, and was built between 1874 and 1876 on the foundation of an earlier church that burned down in 1864.

© 2018 WVEC-TV


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