Emotions High After Century-Old Church Destroyed In Claremore - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

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Emotions High After Century-Old Church Destroyed In Claremore

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"I love this building," Schwenk said. "It was old; it was beautiful. I mean it was a magnificent building." "I love this building," Schwenk said. "It was old; it was beautiful. I mean it was a magnificent building."
The fire was so large crews had to protect other buildings surrounding the church. The fire was so large crews had to protect other buildings surrounding the church.
Viewer submitted photo by Jennifer Sonnier Weber. Viewer submitted photo by Jennifer Sonnier Weber.
CLAREMORE, Oklahoma -

The pastor of Claremore Church destroyed by a fire Saturday is speaking with News On 6.

The fire reduced the century-old building to rubble, and emotions are running high in the congregation as it moves forward without its building.

Saturday night, the Christ Presbyterian Church in Claremore was up in flames.

7/20/13 Related Story: Claremore Presbyterian Church Destroyed By Fire

Instead of Sunday services, pastor David Schwenk is touring the damage of the church.

Christ Presbyterian services have taken place in the building at the corner of Fifth and Weenonah for 26 years.

"I love this building," Schwenk said. "It was old; it was beautiful. I mean, it was a magnificent building."

But a large fire took the building down Saturday night.

"It was just crazy," witness Sara Poteet said. "I [haven't ever] seen anything like this. It was a whirlwind of emotions for sure."

Claremore Fire Chief Sean Douglas says 12 agencies responded to the downtown fire.

"By the time I got here, you could still see a little bit of the flames out from the eaves," CFD's Sean Douglas said.

"Then it came out through roof, and once it did that, it got enough air where it was very hard to put out."

The fire was so large crews had to protect other buildings surrounding the church.

"There's nothing you can do when it's this close to your house," Samantha Flynn said. "There's nothing you can do. You must try to watch your house. We saw embers falling on that house across the street so we were scared."

Blowing embers were the biggest concern.

"Once it vented through the roof, we had a lot of embers and stuff," Douglas said. "We had a lot of wind with the weather front coming in. It was blowing embers to the south of this building. So we had crews to try to make sure the gymnasium didn't catch on fire."

The pastor said the message to his congregation is clear.

"I'll remind them that we're the body of Christ," Schwenk said. "Blessed beyond measure to be God's children. It's far greater than a building."

One firefighter was taken to a hospital to be checked out for heat exhaustion.

The fire is still being investigated.

The church says they will have another building to worship out of next Sunday.

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