By Sarina Trangle and Christina Santucci
A two-alarm blaze ripped through a South Jamaica church early Monday morning, sending four firefighters to Jamaica Hospital with minor injuries, the FDNY said.
The Fire Department said it dispatched firefighters to Deliverance Tabernacle Church of Christ, at 144-01 Sutter Ave., shortly after 3 a.m.
A man who identified himself as Dwight and has lived across the street from the church on Sutter Avenue for the past 27 years said he was awakened by fire trucks at a little after 3 a.m.
“When I looked out the window, there was smoke everywhere. I really couldn’t see the flames because of the smoke,” he said.
By 3:07 a.m., the flames had escalated into a two-alarm fire and spread from the basement to the first floor, authorities said.
The roughly 105 firefighters called to the three-story church had the flames under control by 4:35 a.m., the FDNY said.Nobody was in the church when the fire broke out, and the cause of the fire had not yet been determined, fire officials said.
The FDNY said four firefighers suffered minor injuries and were taken to Jamaica Hospital to be treated.
Deliverance Tabernacle Church of Christ is a non-denominational Christian church, has a congregration of between 60 and 70 people and has been in the neighborhood for about 15 years, said Tonee Johnson, a minister with Oil of Joy Ministries in Brooklyn, which has a fellowship with Deliverance Tabernacle.
“I am so saddened (sic) by this whole thing because they are wonderful people,” he said, after snapping photos of the boarded-up building Monday morning.
Johnson said he was told that musical equipment like the church’s organ, keyboard and drum set as well as the microphone system were ruined.
“I really hope that the community rallies behind them. Whatever assistance they can get, they are going to need it. There is a lot of damage,” he said.
The church runs a vacation Bible camp in the summer, hands out groceries through a food pantry program and was in the process of starting an after-school program, according to Johnson.
“I don’t think they quite had it yet, but I know that was in the plan,” he said.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.