A fire has damaged part of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Spalding.
Father Don Buhrman says he saw smoke coming out of the church around 1 p.m. Friday. Spalding's 35 member Volunteer Fire Department as well as crews from Albion, Greeley and Primrose responded to the church shortly after.
"I went to the main body of the church, opened the door, smoke, black smoke was coming out so the whole church was full of smoke," Father Buhrman says.
Buhrman says the fire started in the altar servers' sacristy. Firefighters put it out before it spread to other parts of the church, but much of the church has smoke and water damage.
Crews are still in the very early stages of clean up.
"It did quite a bit of smoke damage and it's going to take quite a lot of work to clean it up," volunteer firefighter Bob Esch says.
Father Buhrman says the State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire. He says damage estimates are not known at this time. An insurance adjuster was on scene, but couldn't start the process until the fire investigation was done.
Community members say some of their most important life events have taken place at St. Michael's.
"I was born and raised here and baptized, confirmed and everything, married," lifelong Spalding resident Edward Glesinger says.
Patricia Carraher says the church means everything to community members.
It's been a staple in the community for more than 100 years, and the fire that made it unusable has left community members in shock.
"I just sat down and cried, we all did, because it's just too beautiful for anything to happen to it," Carraher says.
"We just have never been without it before, so we're taking it pretty bad," Glesinger says.
But people in Spalding are trying to stay positive.
"I think it is repairable, it didn't get into the structure, the smoke did but the fire was retained to that one room," Esch says. "I think we'll pull together and it'll be fine."
"It's just a great community, everybody works together so we'll make it through," Carraher says.
For now, services will be held in the town's parish center.