Five Injured in Brooklyn Church Mystery Blaze

| 04/2/2024

By: Our Sunday Visitor

There were approximately 150 people inside the Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii Church for the 1 p.m. Spanish-language Mass at the time of the fire

Firefighters work to extinguish a five-alarm fire that broke out in Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii Church in Brooklyn, New York's East Williamsburg neighborhood during Easter Mass March 31, 2024.
Firefighters work to extinguish a five-alarm fire that broke out in Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii Church in Brooklyn, New York's East Williamsburg neighborhood during Easter Mass March 31, 2024. (OSV News photo/John Quaglione, The Tablet)

BROOKLYN (OSV News) — A five-alarm fire broke out in Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii Church in the East Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, during Mass on Easter, according to the Fire Department of the City of New York.

Five people — including three firefighters — were injured in the blaze, which was discovered at around 1:48 p.m. March 31 inside the church. All of the injuries were non-life threatening, FDNY officials said.

There were approximately 150 people inside the church for the 1 p.m. Spanish-language Mass at the time of the fire. The people attending the Mass were safely evacuated from the building, according to the FDNY.

It’s not clear where the fire started or what the cause of the fire was, but flames could be seen coming from a room behind the sanctuary and smoke quickly filled the church, witnesses told reporters.

The fire escalated to four alarms and more than 200 firefighters were called to the scene to put out the fire.

Father Romulo Marin, who was serving the Mass, told the New York Post that parishioners in the pews alerted him to the fire taking place behind him. He said he turned around and opened a door leading to a back room and saw that the room was engulfed in flames.

Seigel Street, as well as several surrounding streets in the area, were closed to traffic to allow
fire crews to work to extinguish the fire. The New York City Office of Emergency Management urged people to avoid the area until the fire was completely extinguished.

At press time, the FDNY said the fire was mostly under control but that crews were still on the scene addressing hot spots in the building.

John Quaglione, spokesperson for the Diocese of Brooklyn, told a TV news reporter that “people get very connected to their parish, so when you see a fire rip through the parish center and the rectory, you know those people that were in the Mass, that got out safely…they’re not going to have the joy of Easter fully today because they are mourning what has happened to their own church.”

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Paula Katinas is a senior reporter with the DeSales Media Group and writes for The Tablet, newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

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