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Historic Lebanon, NH Church Destroyed In Fire

LEBANON, New Hampshire (CBS) -- A church built in the 1800's was completely destroyed overnight by a three-alarm fire, the Lebanon, N.H. Fire Department said Thursday.

Firefighters were called to the First Baptist Church on School Street in Lebanon around 11:30 Wednesday night for a report of an odor of smoke.

The blaze they found upon arrival tore through the building, collapsing its roof.

Crews battled the flames in icy conditions, and one firefighter was injured due to a fall on the ice.

lebanon new hampshire fire
The fire completely destroyed Lebanon's First Baptist Church. (Photo courtesy Michael Mason)

They were still dealing with hot spots Thursday morning.

Nobody was inside at the time of the fire. There had been a church meeting and dinner Wednesday night at 5 p.m.

People in two nearby homes were evacuated to a church down the street because authorities were concerned the steeple could collapse on their houses, but those people were allowed to return early Thursday morning.

"There was heavy fire in the steeple, which is a pretty significant collapse hazard," one firefighter said. "There's a 1,600-pound church bell in that tower, so you have to worry about those kinds of things as hazards."

Residents in the area said the church had recently been fixed up.

"I know they've been fixing it up," one woman said. "Put a lot of work into it. Hopefully more community members will get together and try to rebuild."

Firefighters say the church is a total loss.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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