Philadelphia firefighters have brought under control a three-alarm blaze that caused parts of a 115-year-old church to collapse in the Parkside section of the city Tuesday.
The fire broke out at the Greater Bible Way Temple at around 2:47 p.m. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel told reporters during the firefight that between 75 and 100 firefighters and 30 to 40 pieces of equipment were dispatched to contain the blaze as plumes of smoke and fire shot out of the steeple and roof.
"This is an active firefight," Thiel said. "We are still very worried in an old building like this, we are worried about collapses, so there are parts of the building that have already collapsed into it. We have parts of the building that have collapsed into the street."
Firefighters responded within three minutes and were able to begin an "exterior attack against heavy fire through the church," Thiel said. "They did an incredible job, the first arriving battalion chief and all the companies getting here and circling the church, being able to get some heavy caliber water streams in place. You can see we have a lot of aerial master streams in place, and that's really what's kept us… has let us hold this fire."
Philadelphia City Councilmember Jannie Blackwell told Fox 29 that workers were making repairs to the roof when the fire broke out. Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire.
Thiel said the church was evacuated and added that some nearby residences might need to be evacuated. One person was rushed to the hospital from a building next door, but no further details about the patient's condition were available.
Firefighters using "heavy caliber water streams" in an attempt to put out a massive fire at the Greater Bible Way Temple on Tuesday.
The Philadelphia Fire Department announced on Twitter shortly after 6 p.m. that firefighters had the flames under control. The department added that personnel would remain on scene throughout the night to douse hotspots.
"This is still an active firefight. We’ll certainly be here all night," Thiel said. "If you’re having any breathing difficulties, or you have any reason that you think you might need help, call 911."