Fire officials say an accidental electrical fire that started this morning in a church in East Flatbush, Brooklyn quickly spread to neighboring buildings and displaced several families.
According to fire marshals, the fire started at 4:30 a.m. in the Mt. Horeb Spiritual Baptist Church, which is on the first floor of a two-story building at 1108 Clarkson Avenue, and moved to the upstairs apartments.
The flames then spread to three adjoining buildings that were commercial on the first floor and residential on the second floor. Officials said the connected structure of the buildings made for a difficult situation for firefighters and responding crews were initially pushed back by the flames.
"We also had difficulty of the construction of the building with a shaft in the middle, which allowed the fire to spread to the adjoining buildings," said New York City Fire Department Deputy Chief Stephen Moro. "It also spread to the cockloft and through the roof."
Five firefighters suffered minor injuries, but no civilians were injured.
Officials said a handful of families in apartments above were left temporarily homeless, and the Red Cross is helping them out.
"Things is bad. Everything is destroyed," said Lenard Alexander, the church's landlord.
"I was on my way to work, and I smelled the smoke when I got up. But basically I was still getting ready to go to work and then when I smelled the smoke I went back in and told my son, 'You got to get up because there's smoke coming,'" said a resident. "I thought it was not smelling like somebody cooking but I didn't know what it was or where it was coming from. But when I came outside and I looked at the back apartment, there was big, thick, black smoke coming out."
Mt. Horeb Spiritual Baptist Church was completely gutted, and parishioners hoped they could be let into nearby churches this weekend to attend services.