Fire Destroys Church in Niagara Falls

March 11, 2011 Updated Mar 11, 2011 at 6:22 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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March 11, 2011 Updated Mar 11, 2011 at 6:22 PM EDT

Niagara Falls (WKBW) A raging fire ripped through a church in Niagara Falls, leaving parishioners wondering where they will worship, and investigators trying to find a cause.

It happened at 1815 Pierce Avenue in Niagara Falls. Fire tore through the Bible Way Church, formerly the Pierce Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Heavy smoke and towering flames consumed the building, and eyewitnesses described a scary scene on their street.

"I looked around, and it was blazing out the front, coming out of the windows and everything. I told my wife we better get out of here because it was getting out of control," Leon Street said.

Emmut Richardson, the man who originally called 911, described the fire as "a towering inferno."

Duane McGrady lives two houses down from the church. "When we looked out the window, we saw a big burst of flame. It started out small, and then as time grew on it got greater and greater and greater," he said.

Within hours, the building was almost completely destroyed, the roof was gone, and debris covered the neighborhood. The devastation was hardest on those close to the church.

Michael Stewart is the son of the church's pastor. "It's a little difficult dealing with this situation, and we trust that God knows what he's doing," he said.

The building, originally built in 1893, will now be demolished as officials say it poses a risk to public safety.

Firefighters say no one was in the building at the time of the fire, and no one was hurt fighting it. The cause of the blaze is now under investigation.