Fire guts part of Montco church

June 20, 2008 8:52:14 PM PDT
The investigation continues into a multi-alarm fire that destroyed a large portion of a Montgomery County church. It raged through the night at the Zwingli United Church of Christ in the 300-block of Wile Avenue in Souderton. At least 16 fire companies responded.

An Action News viewer took exclusive cell phone video of the blaze.

"I almost collapsed when I first saw it," said church trustee Brad Hyer.

"I wanted to cry. I did cry," said neighbor Mary Miller.

For hours flames lit the night sky.

Fire companies battled the blaze that was for a while fueled by a ruptured gas line.

Come daylight members of the church got a clearer picture of what was gone, the wing that housed the kitchen and classrooms, and what was saved, the sanctuary and the tall pylon topped with a cross. Elders praised the firefighters. "They put several fire companies in the hallway to keep the flames from reaching the sanctuary, " said elder Jim Bush.

Investigators spent the day looking for the cause. It was an emotional day for many who attend here but member Laura Mawhinney made the point that what has been destroyed can be replaced.

Late today clean up began. Elders are already planning to hold services this Sunday outside using this worship space recently built by some of the church's boy scouts. "With God's help and God's guidance we can be stronger," said church pastor Rev. Louis Kuykendall.