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Crews begin to remove church steeple in Burlington - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Crews begin to remove church steeple in Burlington

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

The steeple of the College Street Congregational Church towered over Burlington for almost 150 years. Saturday it's began to come down.

A historic milestone, a little more than a week after it went up in flame. Parishioner Jonathan Farrell will be on the church's restoration committee.

"It's a little heartbreaking, this is a piece of Burlington's history," Farrell said.

He says architects will inspect every piece that's pulled down to determine how to rebuild.

"The bricks and the mortar, we can fix. We're just thankful no one was hurt in the process," added Farrell.

Investigators say the October 23rd fire was no accident. The suspect faces deportation. Friday a judge ruled 32-year-old Aliaksandr Bychkou competent to stand trial. The Belarus native is being held on 250-thousand dollars bail after pleading not guilty to an arson charge.

Construction crews say removing the steeple is tough work because the fire weakened the structure.

Construction Worker Matthew Labounty said, "It's going to make it a lot more difficult, I mean we have to be real careful not to hit it with the man basket. We'll work a full day, we won't complete it today I don't believe, but should be pretty close."

A roof cap will sit in the steeple's place.

Farrell says then the focus shifts to refilling the church with its parishioners - who grow closer despite tragedy forcing them out of their place of worship.

"That's our prayer right now, that we'll hang together and grow stronger."

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