Lake Charles church damaged by fire

A Lake Charles church was damaged by fire Sunday morning following services. Lake Charles Fire crews were called to St. John The Divine Orthodox Christian Church in the 5700 block of Bennie Lane.

The single level structure appeared to have heavy smoke and fire damage. Firefighters and utility crews were still tending to hot spots Sunday afternoon.

Crew members said it doesn't appear anyone was inside the building when the fire started. There's no word on what caused the fire, which appeared to have started toward the rear of the structure.

Member of the church said the fire started after an early morning service. They tried to salvage everything they could including bibles but for them, seeing disaster strike wasn't a first.

"The building itself suffered fairly extensive damage with one of the hurricanes about 5 or 6 years ago," said deacon of the church Elias Nicols. "We had to refurbish the entire inside of the roof, the inside, the walls was new in it."

Member Lucille Burnette says she was there throughout the first damage and said she's heartbroken to see this happen again.

"They had the inner alter, the outer alter," said Burnette. "It was so beautiful and we were here every day for 7 months until they rebuilt it."

Now, as they pick up the pieces for the second time, members say they still have hope.

"Everything is going to be alright," said member Danae Marantidis. "We're going to try to rebuild it like we did before and it'll be a wonderful place."

"It the Orthodox Church, the church structure is a home for us," said Nicols. "It's like our house and to see this, it just breaks your heart. It's awful but God willing, we have a resilient group of people here and we're going to go back and rebuild it and have us a new church. We're not giving up on it."

According to the church's Facebook page, St. John The Divine is a parish of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian archdiocese of North America.

More on the church can be found on their web site

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