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ALTON - There are many ways to describe the actions of the firefighters to diffuse an extremely difficult blaze Tuesday morning at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Alton. Words such as "courageous, brave, saved a church," and so much more can be used. The firefighters' moves definitely preserved one of the most historic buildings in Alton.

St. Paul Episcopal Church in Alton has been in existence for 179 years. Captain Benjamin Godfrey, a retired steamboat captain and businessman who established residence in Godfrey, used his own funds to construct the building in 1834 and offered it to be used to all organized religious groups until selling it to the Episcopalians in 1845.

Because of actions by the Alton Fire Department and neighboring East Alton, Godfrey, Wood River, Edwardsville, Blackjack, MO., Florissant Valley, MO., firefighters, the building will survive this huge scare. Reports were the church sanctuary was preserved and without the quick reaction time, it would not have happened.

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The fire was dangerous with so much smoke inside, but the firefighters, led by Alton Fire Chief Jesse Jemison and Deputy Fire Chief Brad Sweetman, worked with a team approach to extinguish the very serious blaze.

Now one of Alton's finest historic structures will survive.

The Alton Police kept bystanders and traffic away and kept the outside area safe. The fire and police tandems always work hand in hand in these situations. It is difficult to find any better teamwork than demonstrated by all the firefighters and police in Tuesday's potentially dire situation.

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