From the story on STLToday:
Fire guts 'Rock' Church
By Jeremy Kohler
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
ST. LOUIS — Lightning struck a storied 135-year-old church Thursday evening on Grand Boulevard, sparking a fire that caused major damage to the midtown monument. The five-alarm blaze gutted St. Alphonsus "Rock" Catholic Church, dedicated in 1872 and widely known for its trademark limestone exterior walls.
Andrew Atherton, an elder at the church, said losing the Rock would be "devastating."
"It's just like any other church — it's part of you," Atherton said. "Without that, you're lost."
St. Louis Fire Chief Sherman George said he believed the fire started with a lightning strike. He said the blaze was under control by 9 p.m., about two hours after firefighters arrived. He said that while the walls stayed intact, fire had engulfed the inside.
No one was injured in the blaze, which prompted authorities to close a section of Grand for several hours.George said firefighters tried to battle the blaze from inside but were turned back by heavy smoke and had to rely mostly on aerial trucks. Flames could be seen shooting out of the roof at times.
The building is a Gothic structure, with a towering steeple and flanking spires. The church features an array of stained glass, which was largely spared by the fire.
A former Rock pastor, the Rev. Rick Potts, said he was the last person to leave the church as the fire broke out.
Hundreds of people came to the scene to watch the fire and the battle to contain it. Archbishop Raymond Burke stood with others about two blocks from the church. He called the fire a "great tragedy" and said that church officials are hoping it can be repaired.
(photo above by Sarah Conard of the P-D)
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