A small fire broke out in the remains of the Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village and was quickly extinguished Saturday morning, fire officials said.
The flare-up happened in the remains of the 128-year-old church on Second Avenue and East 7th Street, which was heavily damaged along with a neighboring vacant building that was destroyed in a six-alarm fire last weekend.
Since then, FDNY units have been stationed at the site, monitoring the subsequent salvage and demolition.
Around 9 a.m. Saturday, “something sparked up and the units that were on the scene did what they were supposed to do, which is just put some water on it,” said a FDNY spokesperson who declined to give his name. The flare-up was so minor that the FDNY personnel on scene did not transmit a fire alarm, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, fire investigators have determined the December 5th fire was electrical in nature and non-suspicious, the FDNY spokesperson said.
Around 5 a.m. on December 5th, fire erupted at the empty building at 48 East 7th Street, next door to the church. The flames soon spread to the church, engulfing part of the sanctuary. In all, nearly 200 firefighters from 44 units responded to the scene, with four firefighters reporting minor injuries.
While no civilians reported injuries, the fire displaced 22 women living at the historic Hopper Home, a single women's shelter next to the church.
The building suffered serious damage to the rear and nave, though the facade and steeple were not as intensely damaged, according to the city Department of Buildings. The DOB issued an order Monday for the partial demolition of the rear and the nave of the church which were completely destroyed in the fire and considered unstable, according to agency spokesman Andrew Rudansky in an email.
The church’s senior minister Reverend Jacqui Lewis said in a tweet Saturday the east wall of the sanctuary has been taken down and debris cleanup ongoing.
Middle Collegiate was also home to the New York City Liberty Bell that has rung to mark the birth of the United States, and used to honor historic occasions including the deaths of American presidents, inaugurations, and the remembrance of the 9/11 terror attacks.
On Saturday, DOB engineers used a manlift to inspect the belfry and steeple, Rudansky said. "During this inspection, it was confirmed that the bell was not damaged in the fire."
“Our façade is still standing, and the Liberty Bell remains in the north tower. It has been viewed through the slats in the tower, but we don’t know its condition. We’ll let you know when we do,” Lewis said on Twitter Saturday.