The steeple at College Street Congregational Church will have to come down after an early morning fire at the church.
It was a horrific site to those who live and work under the shadow of the church.
“There were flames and smoke coming from the steeple,” Pancho Trotman said, who lives across the street from the church.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” YMCA Communications Director Carolyn Workman said. The “Y” runs a daycare in the church basement.
Parents who brought their children for daycare in the church basement had to make other plans.
“We are addressing a need for 30 families that have been displaced,” Workman said.
The Burlington Fire Department started fighting the flames around 6 AM Wednesday. It was contained within an hour.
“It was very difficult to fight,” Fire Chief Seth Lasker said.
“A lot of the stairway that leads to the area was burned away,” Lasker said.
Thats where police say Aliaksandr Bychkou was early Wednesday morning. They say a church custodian heard noises from the steeple and called police after the he found a door to an upper level broken into.
Police soon arrived and arrested Bychkou. They say moments later the steeple erupted in flames.
After the fire department put out the flames, engineers were called in to determine the solidity of the steeple. They say that it’s structurally unsound and will have to come down.
Bychkou in Court
Shortly after engineers determined the fate of the steeple Aliaksandr Bychkou appeared in court to face charges of arson and burglary. His mental health was immediately called into question.
Documents show that Bychkou told police he was hearing voices that told him to go to the church steeple to search for treasure.
Police say Bychkou told them that he didn’t remember setting the fire.
Documents also show Bychkou has had trouble sleeping and has heard voices before, which lead him to seek help at a community health center.
Bychkou pleaded not guilty to one count of arson and one count of burglary.
But even through the charred skyline the people who use the church know this congregation will rebound.
“I hope the community will be able to all rally around the church, rally around their community y and rally around the families and we'll all get through this together,” Workman said.