As another hour hits, no bells will toll. The College Street Congregational Church's steeple barely still stands.
"When I see the flames and everything and the smoke, that's when I knew it was really bad," said Poncho Trotman, a neighbor.
When Trotman stepped out of his house a little before 6 a.m. Wednesday, he says the clock tower looked like a torch.
"I thought the thing was going to burn down, you know, like the way it was going," he said.
Burlington Fire Chief Seth Lasker says getting close enough to the fire proved one of the biggest challenges.
"Some of the stairways are wooden ladder-type stairwells leading up to the higher points of the building -- and those had burned away," Lasker said.
They couldn't get to the fire from the inside.
"Had to put up aerial ladders and put the fire out from outside," Lasker said.
They blasted the bell tower with thousands of gallons of water.
"It is unusual," Lasker said.
That's what they said at first about the fire starting in the steeple. Soon we learned police had an arson suspect in custody, Aliaksandr Bychkou, 32, of South Burlington. In fact, he was in police custody before anyone realized there was a fire.
The church's janitor noticed an open door and called police, who found Bychkou in the church. Moments later, the bell tower erupted in flames.
Bychkou now faces arson charges.
"We have a lot of people in this world who do crazy things that we don't understand and this is one of them," said Bill Harwood, a church member. "Why would anybody want to burn this?"
And the church had questions they've asked before. An arsonist hit the same church in 1994, doing close to $200,000 in damage.
This time, fire investigators say damage is estimated at $1 million.
"We have just spent almost $2 million renovating the church," Harwood said. "We put in all this time money and effort, and we had a fire in the one place that the fire inspector had a good look at and that was the steeple."
The damage means the steeple will have to come down. A crane will come Thursday and the steeple will be down by Saturday. South Union and College streets can't reopen until that happens.
Meanwhile, kids are waiting to get back into the basement where the YMCA has a day care.
"What we've learned is there's extensive damage and it may be quite some time before we're able to go back to the church," said Cal Workman of the YMCA.
Thirty families of infants and toddlers are now scrambling to make plans while the Y comes up with a temporary solution.
Daylight revealed the new scars on the steeple of a church that's healed before, a bell tower, they say, will toll again.
"We've been here since 1867; we're going to stay here," Harwood said.
Bychkou pleaded not guilty to arson in court Wednesday afternoon.
Monday, December 9 2013 5:58 AM EST2013-12-09 10:58:56 GMT
An American singer with Vermont ties is making waves with her music halfway across the globe. Jennifer Grout has emerged as the unlikely singing sensation on the overseas reality show Arabs Got Talent. UnlikelyMore >>
An American singer with Vermont ties is making waves with her music halfway across the globe.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 5:51 AM EST2013-12-09 10:51:48 GMT
Usually the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service is busy saving lives or responding to emergencies. But right now, members are selling Christmas trees to raise money for the finishing touches on theirMore >>
Many different groups sell Christmas trees this time of year to raise money for their organization. And for the third year, that includes an ambulance service.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 5:44 AM EST2013-12-09 10:44:43 GMT
Police say a Killington driver hit and killed a New Hamphire man. They say 26-year-old Kyle Wilson of Enfield went out for a walk overnight Saturday in Killington and never came back. Friends went outMore >>
Police say a Killington driver hit and killed a New Hamphire man.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 11:56 PM EST2013-12-09 04:56:59 GMT
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. It happened Saturday night on the Killington Road. Police say 26-year-old Kyle Wilson wentMore >>
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 10:36 PM EST2013-12-09 03:36:50 GMT
A Burlington congregation made a short pilgrimage to it's new home Sunday. The Christ Presbyterian Church has leased property from the University of Vermont for the last 35 years. But UVM has decidedMore >>
The Christ Presbyterian Church has leased property from the University of Vermont for the last 35 years. But UVM has decided not to renew its lease.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 10:35 PM EST2013-12-09 03:35:27 GMT
The 5th annual Festival of Trees in St. Albans is helping to feed the hungry this holiday season. Thirty decorated trees are on display in City Hall. Some of the trees have been auctioned off and theMore >>
Thirty decorated trees are on display in City Hall. Some of the trees have been auctioned off and the rest will be given away at a raffle.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 10:02 PM EST2013-12-09 03:02:41 GMT
Burlington Police are looking for two suspects involved in an assault and robbery.It happened on Front Street Sunday afternoon. The victim told police he was held up at gunpoint by two African AmericanMore >>
Burlington Police are looking for two suspects involved in an assault and robbery.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 9:34 PM EST2013-12-09 02:34:59 GMT
"It was always a lot of fun. It was a great way to dress up and have a fancy party -- something that we usually didn't get to go to, big fancy events," said Ann Cunningham. Cunningham, a native of Burlington,More >>
How do you spread holiday cheer? For decades, one Vermont family has kept up a tradition to throw a christmas party for hundreds of families in need.More >>