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Tragedy in Paris brings back memories of Fort Wayne church fire

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) – The tragedy in Paris is something folks in Fort Wayne know all too well.

In 1993, the St. Mary’s Church in the heart of the city was destroyed.

“We went outside on the roof of our shop and stared in horror as the church burned and the steeple collapsed. It was gut-wrenching.”

It’s a day Michael Hollman says he’ll never forget. He watched as flames ripped through the roof of the church.

Firefighters worked tirelessly that day to fight the fire.

“We kept hoping that they could put it out, but it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Hollman.

Fort Wayne Assistant Fire Chief Jim Murua was one of those firefighters trying to put it out.

“I remember seeing smoke when I first pulled up.”

A daunting challenge for any firefighter, and to this day, he says it was one of the largest fires he’s ever worked.

“The fire was pretty intense up in the attic space.”

A terrible situation that resembles what happened in Paris Monday.

In 1993, so many folks in Fort Wayne were just as horrified.

“In Fort Wayne it was just a huge blow because like I said it was this cultural, religious icon,” said Hollman.

The St. Mary’s Church was re-built in 1998. In Paris though, it’s too early to know what happens next.

Kayla Stewart

Kayla Stewart anchors ABC21 Morning News.

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