Electrical Problem Likely Started Fire at Old KCMO Church

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Fire investigators believe an overnight fire at a 90-year-old church started because of old wiring.

The alarm sounded for firefighters at about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday when a fire was reported at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, located near 7th and Benton Blvd., in Kansas City, Mo.

The flames were so intense, firefighters had to call for backup.

"[The fire was] so hot that the fireman were actually evacuated while putting out the fire," said Pastor Brad Zerkel. "It melted everything. If it wasn't burned, it was melted, and it smoked all the way to the end of the church."

Firefighters said the fire appears to have started inside the building with an electrical problem. Most of the structure inside the church was destroyed. All that remains are charred pews, some pipes from the pipe organ and a cross also remains intact. Zerkel said they will still hold services this Sunday, although they will move to an adjoining building.

Zerkel said the fire is a devastating blow to the neighborhood and his congregation.

"[The church] really helps the neighborhood through its food and clothing pantry, Good Samaritan's fund, eviction help, so it's going to be a temporary blow to the neighborhood and to the people we serve," he said.

But while the fire has taken its toll on material things and has threatened to temporarily halt some of the church's outreach programs, Zerkel said his congregation press on and will continue to walk by faith.

"With the Lord's help and his blessing, we're going to turn this into something in his glory and it will be a blessing in the long run," he said.

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