Just days after Christmas worshipping concluded, a fire ripped through a church in New York, devastating some portions of it and injuring two firefighters.
The New Rochelle Fire Department was called to the Zion Evangelical Baptist Church in New Rochelle, New York, shortly after 8:00 a.m. EST on Thursday, according to News 12 Westchester. Fortunately, no one was inside the building when the flames broke out.
However, due to the extent of the flames, which was classified as a three-alarm blaze, fire departments from neighboring communities were called in to help firefighting efforts. Close to 70 firefighters worked from different angles to battle the blaze, which caused extensive damage to storage and living areas.
Despite the size of the fire, there was no damage to the sanctuary part of the church, according to News 12 West Chester. As crews worked to bring the fire under control, roads in the area were closed off and could remain closed for the majority of Thursday.
New Rochelle Fire Department Chief Andy Sandor told the Westchester Journal News that fighting the fire was a bit complicated because of the design of the building. Given that churches were often built years ago and the wood of the building has dried out over time, the fire has a lot of fuel to burn through. He called it “not a good combination” and classified the firefighting efforts as being very labor intensive.
“There [are] all kinds of nooks and crannies for the fire to get into, little void spaces and such,” Sandor said.
Two firefighters were injured during the firefighting efforts and were taken to the hospital. Sandor said he thought the injuries were minor but would provide an update later on during the day.
People from the church arrived at the scene of the fire and the fire chief told reporters that the department was working with them on how to move forward. It’s unclear what caused the fire to break out or what part of the church was the starting point of ignition.
“You think of the people. You think of the congregation,” Sandor told the Westchester Journal News. “That’s their life, that’s what they circle everything around.”
Located on Lockwood Avenue, the Westchester Journal News reported that the church was built in 1924. Videos taken at the scene showed smoke billowing from the church’s roof as firefighters made headway on controlling the flames.
Along with providing spiritual guidance to people seeking it, local residents also rely on the church for hot meals, according to News 12 Westchester.