Fire at historic Brooklyn church called suspicious

A 2-alarm fire broke out at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew Episcopal Church in Brooklyn just after 4 a.m. on Sunday.

December 24, 2012 8:26:47 PM PST
Investigators are looking into whether a fire early Sunday morning at a historic Brooklyn church was deliberately set.

The two-alarm fire broke out at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew Episcopal Church in Brooklyn just after 4 a.m. on Sunday.

Investigators believe the fire started outside the main entrance, and then spread to the vestibule of the building.

The fire rose to two alarms as a precaution because the building was built back in 1835, which made fighting the fire a challenge.

Over 100 firefighters were on the scene, stopping the fire before it swept through the church's sanctuary.

No one was hurt in the blaze.

"The entire entryway of the church is all burnt out, all of the doors are charred, there is no ceiling, the floor and all of the chairs in that part of the church have been burnt," said Rev. Michael Sniffen, rector of the church.

The Clinton Hill church was very active in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and has been a major dropoff point for donations.

It has also been a focal point for volunteers trying to help storm victims.

But troubling to church officials was a gas can sitting next to a police evidence marker.

"Sometimes when they volunteer, going out to the Rockaways or places that are still without power or houses that have been gutted, they would then bring a gas can with them to power the generators," said Rev. Sniffen.

Now they worry that fuel may have ended up in the wrong hands.

Investigators are currently on the scene, and are calling the fire suspicious.

But in this time of forgiveness and reconciliation, a glimmer of hope: hundreds of Christmas presents for kids were saved from the fire.

"This is the season of light, it's clear to us the fire that burns in our hearts for love and peace and justice can't be extinguished," said Rev. Sniffen.

Church officials say they will rebuild and renovate, and say they will have their doors open for Christmas Eve and Christmas services.

In the meantime, nearby Brown Memorial Baptist Church is opening its doors to worshippers from the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew.


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