Fire leaves historic church in ruins in south Chicago suburb


A wood cross on an old church steeple backlighted by a rising sun. Some copy space.

BEECHER, Ill. (AP) — A weekend fire heavily damaged a historic church in Chicago’s far southern suburbs that had appeared in the 2002 film “Road to Perdition.”

Officials said nearly a dozen fire departments responded to Sunday’s fire in the Will County village of Beecher, but by the time the flames were doused St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was in ruins.

No one was injured and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Flames swept the church Sunday afternoon as members of the congregation were enjoying an Oktoberfest celebration in the parking lot.

The closest fire hydrant was approximately one mile away, prompting an effort to shuttle roughly 91,000 gallons of water to the rural location to extinguish the flames, officials said.

The church, which is more than 150 years old, appeared in Tom Hanks’s 2002 film “Road to Perdition,” NewsNation affiliate  WGN-TV reported.

“My grandparents are buried there. It’s really sad seeing the church like this,” Beecher resident Zachery Wehling told the station.

Fire Chief Joseph Falaschetti said the building dates to 1865 and it is a total loss.

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