Early this morning, a fire broke out at a church in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. Over 100 firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, located at 520 Clinton Avenue—and fire officials believe the blaze is "suspicious."
The church, which had been active in Hurricane Sandy relief, is closed today. According to WABC 7, "Investigators believe that the fire started outside the main entrance, and then spread to the vestibule of the building. The fire rose to two alarms as a precaution, because the building was built back in 1835, which made fighting the fire a challenge."
Father Chris Ballard told WCBS 2, "We believe that it was arson. There are some gas cans that were found at both entrances. So, it was intentional. Services have been canceled for today and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are on hold. We probably won’t be able to get back into the church by then but this is the season of reconciliation and what darkness lives in the hearts of the person who did this, we don’t know. But this is the season to forgive and try to be compassionate for the illness that this person has."
Update: Occupy Sandy released a statement, "Last night, at approximately 4am, a fire erupted at the main entrance to the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew causing serious damage to the building. The location has been an important and well-known hub for Hurricane relief in Brooklyn; fortunately no one was injured. Hopefully, a thorough FDNY investigation will determine the fire’s cause. This calamity comes at a terrible time, just two days before Christmas. Our hearts go out to the entire congregation as well as Father Chris Ballard and Father Michael Sniffen, and we stand ready to support the St. Luke and St. Matthew community in their time of need."