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‘Nothing left but the steps’: Fire burns Chesterfield church to the ground

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Members of a Winterpock church community said they planned to rebuild after their century-old church burned to the ground before sunrise Monday morning.

Chesterfield Fire crews responded to the fire at Centenary United Methodist Church on Beaver Bridge Road around 4 a.m.

When they got there, the church was fully engulfed in flames.

Only the steps and back wall of the church were left of the church that was like a second home to many in the congregation.

"Just a small country church. Been a member all my life," Scott Phillips said.

Phillips, like many members, grew up going to the church. He said it was very special to him and so many families.

"My parents are buried in the cemetery behind the church as well as other family members," he said. "Everybody knows everybody. Everybody is either related to each other or extended family."

Crews battled the fire and worked to contain hot spots for hours.

The church's cemetery was not damaged.

Ramona Jacobs Winckler was baptized and married at the church. Her father Julius Winckler has been a member since his birth in 1930.

"I could not believe it was gone since we were just here yesterday. Just devastating," Ramona Jacobs Winckler said. "If you wanted to come to a close, loving, homey country church, Centenary was the one to come to."

"We can put the material things back, it's the sentimental things that are gone," member Larry Estep said.

Church members said they hoped they could move on and rebuild their church.

"Lot of memories. We hope this just brings us closer together. We'll find how strong this church is, and I know it is," Estep said.

"It's a small congregation, but it is family and we will stick together," said Phillips.

Chesterfield Fire officials said it could be days before investigators know the cause of the fire.