Lower East Side, NYC – Tuesday, December 8, 2020:By APB Staff Writer
APB camera teams were back out on the corner of Second Avenue at 7th Street this morning to witness the smoke coming from the wooden ruins of the smoldering church fire from Saturday morning.
The fire began during a steady rain just before 5 AM on the first floor of a vacant five-story building on East 7th Street, spreading to the Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue next door – which houses the New York Liberty Bell, and whose congregation dates back as far as the Dutch settlement of the region in the 1620s
The church’s tower was home to New York’s Liberty Bell, which used to ring for the US in 1776, and more recently rang its bells in remembrance of the September 11 terror attacks on New York City.
The FDNY confirmed that the church’s Tiffany stained glass was destroyed. About 200 firefighters responded to the blaze within three minutes, according to FDNY Assistant Chief John Hodgens.
“On arrival, we had heavy fire showing from the corner building on East 7th Street. … We knew this was going to be a big operation. We had all our units in position and we quickly were able to contain it to that area.” The fire raged throughout the structure for more than an hour taking more than eight hours for firefighters to put out.
Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, putting out the fire that spread to Seventh Avenue, the site of the Women’s Prison Association, a shelter for single women being released from prison
Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed that the city will “do whatever we can to help Middle Collegiate rebuild.” as Church officials have already started to raise money.
The fire marshal says the cause of the blaze is still under investigation – a fire that broke out this past February was ruled accidental caused by an electrical fire in the basement next door.