A fire early Sunday heavily damaged the South Long Lake Presbyterian Church.
Eighteen firefighters and seven engines responded to the church at about 8 a.m., Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said. When firefighters arrived flames were coming through one part of the roof, he said.
The church is located at 7519 Church Road near Highway 25 south of Brainerd. Stunek said about half of the building was destroyed by the fire. Though the bell tower and worship service area are still intact, Stunek said the building is considered a total loss.
There were no injuries caused by the fire.
"But the first service was at 9:30 in the morning and people were showing up expecting to go to church, so there were a lot of tears shed this morning," Stunek said.
Most of the firefighters stayed at the church until noon, Stunek said, and a crew worked later into the afternoon with a backhoe to dig debris out of the basement, where the fire was still burning.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's office. North Ambulance and the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department assisted at the scene.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857