Fire destroys 106-year-old St. Charles church - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Kerry Klatt

Fire destroys 106-year-old St. Charles church

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ST. CHARLES, MN (FOX 47) -- It's a tough night for St. Charles.  Folks there reflect on the memories inside a popular church.

The 106-year-old United Church of Christ building was badly burned Saturday evening.

Just one month ago, fire completely destroyed Northstar Foods, one of the city's biggest employers.

Now residents try to come to grips with another historic loss.

"Can't really describe it, it went so quick!" says witness Angie Schultz.

At about 5:15, Saturday evening, reports starting coming in that the United Church of Christ was on fire.

"Within in a matter of minutes flames were coming out of the church," says Schultz.

Angie's son Chris Schultz also witnessed the fire, "It was just smoke, and then all of a sudden once the firemen got here it was all engulfed, and then the roof just completely caved in."

The Schultz's live next door to the church, "It's kind of scary because I'm worried about [the flames] going to the house next door and starting that on fire," says Angie.

A thick cloud of smoke blankets the neighborhood, as fire fighters battle the blaze.

Onlookers say they have no idea how the fire would have started.

"No idea, yet. There was no activity at the church today, there was no function or anything," says Lori Todd, a longtime church member.

Todd feels stunned that this is happening, "My mom was married in this church. All her kids were baptized here, and our Dad was buried here. As for all these people standing here, all their families go to this church, huge membership."

Members say they were looking forward to celebrating the church's 150th anniversary this August.

"And we were also planning on to add an elevator system to make it more accessible for our older members," says Todd.

And just like that, in a matter of minutes, after 150 years, the church is a total loss.

"We will figure out how to still worship together because I know the members, we're close, and it wasn't just the church that held people [together]," says Todd.

As a town watches this unsettling site, members wonder why this is happening.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

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