Firefighters are trying to save an historic church in New Rochelle hit by a five alarm fire early Monday which collapsed its roof and filled the downtown area with acrid smoke.
Fire at the Union Baptist Church, which had been undergoing renovations for its upcoming 100th anniversary, was reported at 1:24 a.m., and almost immediately went to a second alarm, said the New Rochelle Fire Department.
There are no immediate reports of injuries. The fire department says the main fire has been knocked out but the blaze remained so fierce hours later that firefighters were still unable to get inside.
Parishioners gathered at their church and said they hoped for the best.
"We're on our 99th year, going on 100," said Reginald Hudson, the pastor. "We're going to rebuild."
"We are just praying that God will bring us back soon," said one woman.
The inferno blew the church's stained glass windows into the street and destroyed the parish building next door.
Authorities evacuted several surrounding buildings for safety. The church is near a senior center and Monroe College.
More than 150 firefighters are battling the blaze, including reinforcements sent by other departments.