Chicago Fire

Cause of Fire That Torched Englewood Baptist Church Released: Officials

Firefighters were actively working to put out another smaller fire at the church Saturday morning

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Officials Saturday released a cause for the fire that send Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood into flames just a day earlier.

In a tweet Saturday afternoon, the Chicago Fire Department said an investigation found that the fire at Antioch Church was accidental and caused by work being done on the roof using a propane torch.

On Friday, video posted on Twitter by CFD at approximately 2:15 p.m. showed multiple fire trucks on scene at the church, 6248 S. Steward Ave., as flames and heavy smoke poured out of the structure.

Just hours earlier, church members converged on the building for a Good Friday service, but had left by the time the fire broke out, according to Rev. Gerald Dew, pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

"If we’ve to lose something, losing it on good Friday is the best time to lose it because after Good Friday comes resurrection Sunday," Dew said, offering a message to church members. "God has something better for all us that love and belong to the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. I love you, you are in my prayers."

When firefighters arrived at the scene, they encountered a heavy amount of flames coming from the roof, said Donald Walker, assistant deputy commissioner of CFD.

More than 180 firefighters and at least 50 fire vehicles responded to the scene. The building's truss roof, which made battling the flames especially difficult, had collapsed in the hours following the fire.

Although no injuries were reported, it wasn't immediately known if anyone was inside at the time of the fire, officials said. The cause remained under investigation late Friday afternoon.

The church, described as an anchor in the community for helping neighbors through numerous initiatives, isn't going anywhere, the pastor said.

"...All this does for us is gives us a greater reason to redouble our efforts to be intentional about our involvement and commitment to this community," Dew stated.

The fire was contained at approximately 4:30 p.m., but firefighters remained on scene, working to extinguish hot spots.

Saturday morning after 7 a.m., a fire reignited at the same church, officials told NBC 5.

Chicago Fire Department Chief Curtis Hudson said it's normal for such a massive fire that the embers would come back on, noting that Saturday morning's fire was not big.

Firefighters worked through the morning to put out the flames.

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