Historic church fire in Brooklyn, arson suspected - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

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>>

  • Is NYC the most unhappiest city in America?

    Is NYC the most unhappiest city in America?

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:36 AM EDT2014-07-23 13:36:19 GMT
    When researchers in Canada and Harvard University examined the results of a survey that asked “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?” they found that New York City is the unhappiest city in the country. The data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee and Detroit round out the list.
    When researchers in Canada and Harvard University examined the results of a survey that asked “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?” they found that New York City is the unhappiest city in the country. The data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee and Detroit round out the list.
  • Two babies get herpes during ritual circumcision

    Two babies get herpes during ritual circumcision

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:19 AM EDT2014-07-23 13:19:03 GMT
    The New York City Department of Health has issued an alert after two babies were diagnosed with neonatal herpes this month after undergoing a ritual Jewish circumcision called metzitzah b'peh.  In this type of circumcision the mohel sucks blood directly from the infant's cut penis.  The infants need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous acyclovir.
    The New York City Department of Health has issued an alert after two babies were diagnosed with neonatal herpes this month after undergoing a ritual Jewish circumcision called metzitzah b'peh.  In this type of circumcision the mohel sucks blood directly from the infant's cut penis.  The infants need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous acyclovir.
  • 3 NYC boys get recording contract approval

    3 NYC boys get recording contract approval

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 6:34 AM EDT2014-07-23 10:34:12 GMT
    New York City NewsNew York City News
    Three middle school students got permission from a Manhattan judge to sign a multi-year recording contract with Sony. The court's approval allows the heavy metal band, Unlocking the Truth, to record their first single Wednesday for The Cherry Group, a division of Sony. The Brooklyn boys had to get court approval because they are minors.
    Three middle school students got permission from a Manhattan judge to sign a multi-year recording contract with Sony. The court's approval allows the heavy metal band, Unlocking the Truth, to record their first single Wednesday for The Cherry Group, a division of Sony. The Brooklyn boys had to get court approval because they are minors.

Powered by WorldNow

KTBC FOX 7
119 East 10th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 476-7777
Fax: (512) 495-7001

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