Firefighters extinguish massive flames at Walhalla Church - FOX Carolina 21

Firefighters extinguish massive flames at Walhalla Church

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Firefighters battle the fire Walhalla Presbyterian Church (courtesy: Courtney Smith) Firefighters battle the fire Walhalla Presbyterian Church (courtesy: Courtney Smith)
Firefighters battle the fire Walhalla Presbyterian Church (courtesy: Katie Alexander) Firefighters battle the fire Walhalla Presbyterian Church (courtesy: Katie Alexander)
Firefighters battle the fire Walhalla Presbyterian Church (courtesy: Katie Alexander) Firefighters battle the fire Walhalla Presbyterian Church (courtesy: Katie Alexander)
WALHALLA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Officials say the flames are out at a historic Walhalla church that was founded in the 1860s, but little more than the walls remain standing after a fire gutted the building Saturday.

Firefighters began packing up at the Walhalla Presbyterian Church around 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, but officials. said the investigation into what sparked the blaze was just beginning.

Nine fire departments were called out to battle a massive fire at the church Saturday morning.

Dispatchers said a church member called in at 10:18 a.m. and reported seeing flames inside the building on East Main Street.

Organist Bill Weeks said he was inside the church, practicing hymns ahead of the Sunday service when he smelled the smoke.

Weeks made it out safely, but said he spent his whole life as a member of the church, and was deeply upset to see it on fire.

Firefighters battled the blaze for over three hours and said the fire was mostly in the roof of the building.

Oconee County Fire Chief Charlie King said the fire started in the church attic. He said the second story collapsed into the sanctuary on the lower level.

Witnesses at the scene said the oldest part of the church was built back in 1906, and other additions have been made over the years.

Just across the street, St. Luke's Methodist church opened its doors to provide water for firefighters and a space for members of the community to pray together.

Officials at St. Luke's said they know all too well what it's like to experience a fire. That church was damaged in a fire in July 2009.

Officials at St. Luke's said Walhalla Presbyterian opened their doors for joint services when the Methodist church was being repaired. Now, St. Luke's is repaying the favor.

Sunday services for Walhalla Presbyterian Church will be held at St. Luke's Methodist at the usual time.

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