Historic church fire in Brooklyn, arson suspected - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Fire burns historic church in Brooklyn, arson suspected

Posted: Updated:
Photo from FDNY Facebook page Photo from FDNY Facebook page
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

A 19th-century Brooklyn church that was a hub for Superstorm Sandy volunteer efforts was damaged in a fire early Sunday morning. 

Fire officials said more than 100 firefighters were dispatched to the blaze around 4:00 a.m. at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in the Clinton Hill section. No one was injured.  

The Episcopal Church has played a pivotal role in sandy relief efforts and in the community. Now the clergy and congregation are wondering why someone tried to set it on fire. 

"This is not something you expect, you know?" said Ian Nelizaire, church acolyte. 

The Reverend Michael Sniffen, pastor of the St. Luke and St. Matthews Church, told Fox 5 Sunday morning someone doused the front doors with gasoline, and then set them on fire.

Sandy relief volunteers, who were sleeping in the basement, smelled the smoke and called firefighters. 

"They arrived very quickly and they put the fire out before it spread into the sanctuary itself," said Rev. Sniffen.  

Because firefighters arrived so quickly, the damage was confined mostly to the vestibule.  But the church was temporarily closed while NYPD detectives, including some from the arson squad, worked the scene. 

"I was so sad and very upset, I said who could do such a thing like this?" said Lucille Hill, a church member.  

Hours later, Rev. Sniffen was allowed back into the church to assess its condition. The church has played an important role in the community for years and especially in the Sandy response, says Council Member Letitia James. 

"There are surveillance cameras on both angles on this block and so after the police review those video tapes, I'm sure we will apprehend this sick, demented individual," said James. 

Pastor Sniffen said now the hope is that some good will come of this incident. 

"Fire is also cleansing and I think we're going to come through this stronger than we were," said Rev. Sniffen. 

Church members and other volunteers had collected and wrapped about 500 toys for kids whose Christmas was looking bleak because of Superstorm Sandy. Fox 5 has learned the toys were in the basement and not destroyed by the fire –- so they'll be able to have a Merry Christmas after all and maybe so will the congregation. 

The pastor told Fox 5 he's optimistic they'll be able to have Christmas Day services.

  • Brooklyn NewsBrooklyn NewsMore>>

  • Dangerous rip currents at NJ, NY beaches

    Dangerous rip currents at NJ, NY beaches

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 4:54 PM EDT2014-08-27 20:54:07 GMT
    Several beaches on the New Jersey and New York coastlines are open to visitors but closed to swimming because of high surf and dangerous rip currents. The National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory and Rip Current Statement for the area beaches because of the effects of Hurricane Cristobal, which is expected to track south and east of the Jersey shore through Thursday.
    Several beaches on the New Jersey and New York coastlines are open to visitors but closed to swimming because of high surf and dangerous rip currents. The National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory and Rip Current Statement for the area beaches because of the effects of Hurricane Cristobal, which is expected to track south and east of the Jersey shore through Thursday.
  • Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 1:15 PM EDT2014-08-27 17:15:06 GMT
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
  • Mayor: NYC will learn from 2004 RNC 'mistakes'

    Mayor: NYC will learn from 2004 RNC 'mistakes'

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:35 AM EDT2014-08-27 10:35:46 GMT
    Brooklyn's final pitch to hold the 2016 Democratic national convention was centered on New York City's robust mass transit system -- and a pledge to learn "from the mistakes" from the last time the city hosted a presidential convention. The Republicans gathered in New York in 2004 to re-nominate President George W. Bush, choosing to meet in deep-blue Manhattan less than three years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
    Brooklyn's final pitch to hold the 2016 Democratic national convention was centered on New York City's robust mass transit system -- and a pledge to learn "from the mistakes" from the last time the city hosted a presidential convention. The Republicans gathered in New York in 2004 to re-nominate President George W. Bush, choosing to meet in deep-blue Manhattan less than three years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Powered by WorldNow

WTXF-TV
330 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2796

Phone: (215) 925-2929
Fax: (215) 982-5494

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices