Crews fought to contain a massive fire coming from inside Faith Lutheran Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Sunday, according to authorities.
According to Cambridge Acting Fire Chief Tom Cahill, the Cambridge Fire Department began receiving multiple calls for the church fire around 5:30 p.m.
When crews arrived at the scene, massive amounts of smoke could be seen coming out of the church. At first arrival, crews entered the church to extinguish the fire from inside. But after 30 minutes, Cahill ordered staff to leave the building, and crews began attacking the fire solely from the outside. According to Cahill, the structural integrity of the church was questionable from the start of their response.
Cahill said approximately 150 firefighters assisted in containing the church fire, along with additional help from fire departments in the surrounding area.
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Although they did not run out of water during the response, Cahill said the height of the steeple made it hard for crews to take out flames that were up high. Crews could be seen from all sides of the church on ladders as far as they extended, shooting water at the steeple.
In addition to the issue of the steeple's height, Cahill attributed the structure and design of the building as an obstacle in itself: the high ceilings and wide open spaces inside made it hard for crews to contain the fire.
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No one was inside the church at the time of the fire. Cahill said that from his understanding, there had been a Mass close to the time of the fire, but the congregation had left the church 30 minutes before the fire started.
No civilians were injured in the fire, however, multiple firefighters received minor injuries.
Even though the main structure and steeple are still up, the church suffered massive interior and exterior damage. According to Cahill, the majority of the roof in the rear, right and left has collapsed.
Cahill said the Cambridge Fire Department planned to remain at the site through the night and into Monday morning. It's unclear whether the building is a total loss or not, the fire department is waiting on Inspection Services to made that determination.
Cahill said all the surrounding buildings had been evacuated. As for the church, Cahill said crews are not planning on going back inside.
Authorities have closed these streets as crews attempt to stop the fire:
- Broadway from Inman to Columbia
- Prospect from Harvard Street to Saint Mary's / Gardener
- Tremont from New Hampshire to Broadway