Historic church fire in Brooklyn, arson suspected - FOX 35 News Orlando

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>>

  • Deli clerk burned in Molotov Cocktail attack

    Deli clerk burned in Molotov Cocktail attack

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:10 AM EDT2014-04-24 11:10:53 GMT
    A store clerk inside of a Brooklyn mini-mart was set ablaze when an enraged sicko threw a Molotov Cocktail into the store.  It happened just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday at the store on Fort Hamilton Parkway.The 34-year-old store clerk had his hair and coat catch fire in the attack.
    A store clerk inside of a Brooklyn mini-mart was set ablaze when an enraged sicko threw a Molotov Cocktail into the store.  It happened just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday at the store on Fort Hamilton Parkway.The 34-year-old store clerk had his hair and coat catch fire in the attack.
  • God's Love We Deliver virtual bake sale for birthday cakes

    God's Love We Deliver virtual bake sale for birthday cakes

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:36 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:36:46 GMT
    God's Love We Deliver provides meals to people in the New York City area who are too sick to shop and cook for themselves. Clients also receive birthday cards that are decorated by local school students. Sometimes a cake is the only birthday gift that God's Love's clients will receive.
    God's Love We Deliver provides meals to people in the New York City area who are too sick to shop and cook for themselves. Clients also receive birthday cards that are decorated by local school students. Sometimes a cake is the only birthday gift that God's Love's clients will receive.
  • NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 10:23:11 GMT
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

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