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Fire tears through historic church in New Rochelle

February 15, 2011 4:05:25 AM PST
Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a historic church in Westchester County early Monday.

The Union Baptist Church on Main Street continued to smolder into the night. Firefighters remained on the scene, and officials are concerned that high winds may bring down what's left of the building.

More than 100 firefighters battled the blaze, which broke out around 1:30 a.m. It was finally brought under control about five hours later.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

By all accounts, this is a huge loss for New Rochelle. The Union Baptist Church was a landmark that has been around for 99 years.

A tremendous amount of flames inside the building kept firefighters at bay as the fire reached five alarms.

The pastor and many of his congregants were on the scene, trying to remain optimistic.

"You can replace things, but you can't replace people," Pastor Reginald Hudson said. "And thank God nobody was inside.So if this is as bad as it gets, we're going to be alright."

A decision on whether the structure can be salvaged will be determined in the days to come.

The roof collapsed, but the stone exterior, including the bell tower, remained intact. The parish house was not damaged.

The church is on Main Street near Monroe College and across from the New Roc City entertainment complex. The church is on the Westchester County Inventory of Historic Places.

It was undergoing renovations for its upcoming 100th anniversary.


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