The fire that engulfed the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood on Friday reignited in the historic building Saturday morning, officials say.
Chicago Fire Department Chief Curtis Hudson said it was normal for a blaze as massive as embers to return, noting that Saturday morning’s blaze is not significant.
Hudson said firefighters were actively working to put out the flames.
Video posted to Twitter by CFD around 2:15 p.m. Friday showed multiple fire engines at the scene of the church, 6248 S. Steward Ave., as flames and heavy smoke billowed from the structure.
Hours earlier, church members had converged on the building for a Good Friday service but had left by the time the fire broke out, according to the Reverend Gerald Dew, pastor of the Missionary Baptist Church. of Antioch.
“If we have 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 of us who love and belong to the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. I love you, you are in my prayers.”
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they encountered a heavy amount of flames coming from the roof, said CFD assistant deputy commissioner Donald Walker.
More than 180 firefighters and at least 50 fire engines responded to the scene. The building’s lattice roof, which made fighting the flames particularly difficult, had collapsed within hours of the blaze.
While no injuries were reported, it was not 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 to help neighbors through numerous initiatives, is going nowhere, the pastor said.
“…All of this gives us a greater reason to redouble our efforts to be intentional about our involvement and commitment to this community,” Dew said.
The blaze was brought under control around 4:30 p.m., but firefighters remained on site to extinguish hot spots.