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Pastor Urges Others Not To Take Things From Burned Claremore Church

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Fire crews from across Rogers County tried to save Christ Presbyterian Church before it burned to the ground Saturday night. Fire crews from across Rogers County tried to save Christ Presbyterian Church before it burned to the ground Saturday night.
Fire destroyed the church and reduced it to rubble. Now, several people in the community are scrambling to snatch up a piece of the church's history. Fire destroyed the church and reduced it to rubble. Now, several people in the community are scrambling to snatch up a piece of the church's history.
"I think they're probably saying, 'I just want a memory of something that's been an iconic building in this area. I get that pull," Pastor David Schwenk said. "I think they're probably saying, 'I just want a memory of something that's been an iconic building in this area. I get that pull," Pastor David Schwenk said.
CLAREMORE, Oklahoma -

Members of a local congregation say people are taking stones and building materials from a century-old church that burned down over the weekend.

Because of the thefts, extra police tape is up to keep people from taking souvenirs.

Members of the church say they understand why people passing by are digging through the rubble, and they can sympathize with those who want a piece of history, but it's just too early to be taking mementos from the Christ Presbyterian Church.

"This building has affected everybody," said church elder Neil Thielen.

Fire crews from across Rogers County tried to save Christ Presbyterian Church before it burned to the ground Saturday night.

"There's memories here and those memories hurt," said Pastor David Schwenk.

Fire destroyed the church and reduced it to rubble. Now, several people in the community are scrambling to snatch up a piece of the church's history.

7/21/2013 Related Story: Emotions High After Century-Old Church Destroyed In Claremore

"I think they're probably saying, 'I just want a memory of something that's been an iconic building in this area. I get that pull," Schwenk said.

There's a lot of memories in those rocks. People have married and celebrated baptisms there for decades. The pastor just wants people to wait for things to settle, and for the insurance company to bring their claim to a close, before letting people sift through the rubble.

"In the interest of safety, in the interest of propriety, we need to kind of stop that," Schwenk said.

There's now yellow police tape around the burned down church. Thielen said he has a message for anyone who might think to cross that line and take something from the church.

"It's not me that they're going to have to answer to someday. It's not me. It's going to be the Lord," Thielen said.

The church says they don't know where they are going to meet on Sunday.

Officials say the fire investigation is focusing on three possible causes. They say it may have been caused by some people, who were on the roof using a blow torch hours before the fire, an electrical failure in a transformer, or possibly lightning in the area.

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