Multi-alarm fire heavily damages North Philadelphia church

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Three-alarm fire decimates North Philly church: Christie Ileto reports on Action News at 11 p.m., March 29, 2018 (WPVI)

Firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze inside a church in North Philadelphia on Thursday.

The blaze started before 2:30 p.m. Thursday inside The Original Apostolic Faith Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in the 1500 block of North Broad Street.
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Crews battle multi-alarm church fire in North Philadelphia. Christie Ileto reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on March 29, 2018.

Crews arrived at a fully engulfed building located near Temple University.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Gary Loesch said, "When we pulled up our companies found heavy smoke and fire. We tried an aggressive interior attack, we were driven out by heavy heat and smoke."

The blaze grew to three alarms. Early indicators show the fire started in the basement or the first floor of the three-story church.

"Due to the construction of the building and the damage it sustained, we were forced to pull our companies out, so now that's making it difficult to get water onto the scene of the fire," Loesch said.

The fire was placed under control after 4 p.m.

Action News spoke with the pastor, Frederick Tookes. He says his family has run this church for decades.

"We've been here since 1979, and then all of a sudden poof!" added Priscilla Tookes.

The last time they were inside the church was Tuesday night after having evening service. Tookes says everything was secured and then the unthinkable happened.

"Devastating. We serve the community and it's just devastating. At this point, there was no reason for this to be on fire. We closed up Tuesday night, made sure building was secure, made sure it was safe and then I got a call that our building was on fire," Tookes said.

For some time following the fire, Broad Street subway trains were not stopping at Cecil B. Moore due to the fire activity. Service was restored around 9 p.m. Thursday.

So far, there are no reports of injuries.

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Chopper 6 was over the scene of a multi alarm fire at a church on North Broad Street.

Tookes says they have no idea where the church will worship on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

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