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Fire destroys church in north-central Minnesota town

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Firefighters use a ladder truck to put water on a fire at Faith Assembly of God Church in Pine River. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch3 / 3

PINE RIVER, Minn. -- While thick smoke curled under the eaves and flames gutted the sanctuary, the parishioners of Faith Assembly of God Church in Pine River could only look on crestfallen Wednesday, May 23.

At the scene, firefighters worked to contain the flames that caved in the sanctuary roof and turned the walls into charred shells. Some formed a human chain through a ground-level window in the church offices, passing from hand to hand whatever documents, books, and valuables could be saved.

No injuries were reported.

Pastor Tim Walker said -- judging by reports by first responders -- the fire started in the sanctuary, but there wasn’t an obvious cause beyond a possible electrical source. The sanctuary, an addition built around 1980, collapsed. The older portions, including the office, seemed to fare better. They were built somewhere in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

In the best of cases, Walker said, it would take a significant rebuild to salvage the older portions of the building, while the newer sanctuary was destroyed.

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