Crews battle flames and smoke at Westport Presbyterian Church - KCTV5 News

Crews battle flames and smoke at Westport Presbyterian Church

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© Photo Courtesy: David Albright © Photo Courtesy: David Albright

As dozens of onlookers packed Westport Road Thursday evening, all they could do is watch as Westport Presbyterian Church burned.

"We were out in Westport and my wife got a message on Facebook saying 'Westport's burning,'" Luke Rocha said.

Rocha, like many others, went down to see the flames shooting from the roof of the historic church that stood at Westport and 40th street for more than 100 years.

"Automatically went into defensive mode, we were unable to make an interior attack on this structure," said Joe Vitale with the Kansas City Fire Department.

Because the fire burned so hot, in such a large area, the fire department called in support from water services to boost water pressure.

"Depending on how much supply we have, we can demand quite a bit. As long as the supply is there, we can put quite a bit of water on this fire," Vitale said.

Only a handful of people, including Westport Cooperative Services executive director Pamela Seymour, were inside the church when the fire started.

"Walked out into the hall, it was very smoky so went back in and then we ran out. We exited, making sure that the daycare had emptied out, which they had, as I was dialing 911, I turned around and there was fire coming through the roof," Seymour said.

Everyone in the church made it out safely. And that was welcome news to the curious people lined up and down the street.

"Just the building itself, the church, to me it's a great loss. Anything historic of that nature, I'd like to know what happened," Rocha said.

Crews battled the fire into Thursday night. Investigators will go in as soon as it is safe, to try and determine how the massive fire started.

The Westport Meals on Wheels program is housed inside the church. All meals will be delivered as scheduled Friday and into next week. If you have any questions about the program, you can call 816-753-0848.

Information will also be available on the program's website which can be found by clicking here.

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