Raging inferno engulfs New York's historic Middle Collegiate Church, 200 firefighters employed to douse fire
The church is believed to have suffered extensive damage including on the roof and stained glass windows
Hundreds of firefighters gathered outside the historic Middle Collegiate Church dousing a massive fire that threatened to bring down the entire structure, which was built in 1892 by Dutch settlers almost 400 years ago. The church in New York's East Village stood blazing as 200 firefighters worked desperately to save the church. There is no report of any casualties.
The fire started in an empty East Village building and then spread to the church. The six-alarm fire was enough to damage both structures. The church is believed to have suffered extensive damage including the roof and stained glass windows.
The FDNY said the fire began around 5 am on the first floor of an apartment building, which was vacant after a previous fire. The cause of that fire was ruled accidental. Eyewitnesses claimed the blaze started in a restaurant space on the ground floor. FDNY Assistant Chief John Hodgens said on Saturday, December 5, morning, four firefighters suffered minor injuries as a result of the fire.
"Our units arrived in three minutes, very fast response time. Upon arrival, we had heavy fire showing from the corner building on East 7th Street. We quickly transmitted additional alarms to get more help here. We knew this was going to be a big operation," FDNY Assistant Chief John Hodgens said in a statement.
"Fire had extended into the church on 2nd Avenue and also into another building on 7th Street. We had all of our units in position and we were quickly able to contain it to that area. We have four minor injuries to Firefighters at this time. We are going to be operating here for a while. The fire is under investigation by our marshals," he said from the scene of the 6-alarm fire at 48 East 7th Street in Manhattan and shared this on Instagram.
As of 9.30 am, as investigators worked towards finding the cause of the fire, firefighters were still pouring water. FDNY took to Twitter to share the update. "FDNY members continue operating on scene of a 6-alarm fire at 48 East 7th Street in Manhattan," the tweet said.
FDNY members continue operating on scene of a 6-alarm fire at 48 East 7th Street in Manhattan. pic.twitter.com/aGv9uDezxp— FDNY (@FDNY) December 5, 2020
To get an idea of the chaos that ensued, take a look at this tweet that uploading by a user witnessing the fire from an opposite building. "From my roof: @middlechurch fire, 5:30am #eastvillagenyc," they tweeted.
When Church Minister Amanda Ashcraft arrived on the scene, she saw the church burning. "The sanctuary is not in good shape and we have some beautiful Tiffany stain glass windows that are gone. We are trying to save the steeple right now. God is also weeping right here with us," she told ABC7. "This is not anything that makes God happy - not part of God's plan and God will be here with us as we rebuild from this moment."
"God is here in the water that we're seeing washing over the building right now and God is absolutely crying with us. This is a horribly sad day for our congregation and for this neighbourhood."
Reverend Jacqui Lewis posted, "We thank God that there has been no loss of life. We know that God does not cause these kinds of tragedies but is present with us and to us as we grieve, present in the hugs and prayers of loved ones."
We thank God that there has been no loss of life. We know that God does not cause these kinds of tragedies but is present with us and to us as we grieve, present in the hugs and prayers of loved ones.— Rev. Jacqui Lewis, PhD (@RevJacquiLewis) December 5, 2020