LORAIN, Ohio -- It was an emotional morning as members of the First Lutheran Church on W. 6th at Washington in Lorain watched their place of worship burn.
It's believed the blaze, which sparked early Thursday, began somewhere in the basement. Damage is expected to be extensive.
The nearby Admiral King Elementary School decided to close Thursday due to the fire.
Pastor Jimmy Madsen says he got the call about the fire around 6:30 a.m.
"Shock was the first thing that came to mind."
The church, Madsen says, has a long history.
"This building that's burning was built in 1924. It was actually here when the famous tornado came through Lorain, and was one of the buildings that survived. I've been here 35 years and this congregation is very much involved in this neighborhood."
The state fire marshal's office was at the scene today. They told WKYC that they are seeking information, particularly video, audio or pictures, from the public regarding the fire..
The state fire marshal's investigation is being conducted in conjunction with the City of Lorain Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Investigators believe there is video, audio and pictures of the incident, and ask any individuals in possession of those recordings to contact them.
"Information from the public is crucial to solving these kinds of cases," said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers.
"Investigators are asking for your assistance so that they can get to the bottom of what caused the fire. Any recordings or pictures of the incident could be valuable to them."
Anyone with information is asked to call the State Fire Marshal's Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau at 1-800-589-2728.
Pastor Jimmy Madsen says the outpouring of support for the church has already started.
"People are already coming from houses around here. We have a very vibrant worship life, but we also serve this neighborhood a lot, so I think a lot of people here see it as their church even though they don't belong to it."
He says that the congregation will not let this fire stop them from moving forward.
"The church is not a building, it's people. ... We will go on. God provides, and we're quite certain of that."
As members of the church came to the site of the fire, many embraced and shed tears. With hands joined together, Madsen took the moment to hold this impromptu prayer:
Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of your presence and especially for community. You have made us the body of Christ. Help us to know that you're very powerfully with us and among us. We pray for wisdom, for strength, for courage, for all that we will need in these days ahead. Help us not to grow weary. Guide us by the gift and power of the Holy Spirit as we face what's in front of us. Help all of us who are grieving. Help us to know that you are near, that you are always present -- especially in the difficult times. Help us to see you.
Aug. 28, 2014: Heavy flames poured out of the First Lutheran Church on W. 6th at Washington Avenue in Lorain. Pastor Jimmy Madsen says his congregation is strong and they will move forward despite this emotional hurdle. WKYC-TV
Aug. 28, 2014: Pastor Jimmy Madsen of the First Lutheran Church held an impromptu prayer Thursday morning as his church was burning in heavy flames. Members of the church embraced and shed tears as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. WKYC-TV