KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) -
Fireworks may be to blame for a spectacular fire that gutted St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Kentwood in the early morning hours of Sunday.
No one was inside when the fire began around 1 a.m. Multiple fire departments were needed to battle the blaze at the church on 52nd Street near Christie Avenue.
The flames were so intense firefighters were forced to defensive positions. It took hours for the fire to be brought under control.
The fire began on the rear roof and blazed through the sanctuary. That led to the question of the day: were fireworks responsible?
"It was going on all night -- fireworks. Left and right," said Quisha Kennedy, who lives next door to the church.
"That is something we are looking into at this point. I don't have a definite at this point," Kentwood Fire Chief Brent Looman told 24 Hour News 8. "The investigation has just started, but we are certainly looking into those leads."
Many members of the congregation stood in disbelief and prayed Sunday morning at the rubble that was their church.
"It takes your breath away. It's devastating," said parishioner Betty Schlikman. "It's our history." She said she and her husband were married at the church 41 years ago and her two children were baptized at the parish.
"It's a horrible tragedy, but the parish, the people of God, are very much alive," the priest, Fr. Godfrey Onyekwere said in a statement.
But out of the rubble, the pastor emerged with the church's holy relic saved -- "a 2,000-plus-year-old" relic, Fr. Onyekwere said.
With a history dating back to 1956, St. Mary Magdalen is truly a church home to many who came to witness what's left.
"It's great to see the church family here, because that's what the church is, family," said parishioner Mike Yakubowski. But, he said, it's "very sad."
"Please keep the members of St. Mary Magdalen and everyone affected by this fire in your prayers," Bishop Walter Hurley said in a statement Sunday morning. "While this is an emotional time for many, the church will be rebuilt and the parish community will continue to worship together."
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
Police say snow made roads "treacherous" Sunday and urged people to stay home if possible.