Sunday, May 17, 2009

Church Fire at Cambridge MA LDS Church

Hmm, how does one start a blog about a fire that destroys your church building.  Well, I guess that's as good a way as any.  This morning was Stake Conference for the New England area and many areas on the East coast.  It was a broadcast from Salt Lake City.  It started at 10 a.m.  Around 10:45 a.m. the fire alarm went off.  We were all hesitant to get out, thinking it was merely a false alarm or drill.  After all it was right in the middle of someone's talk.  However, we all filed outside, and there noticed the smoke billowing out of the roof vent above the chapel.  The fire department was called, and by the time they arrived (within minutes) more smoke was spewing forth from vents.  The firemen positioned their trucks and ladders climbed up on the roof, cut a hole and wow!  then the flames appeared.  So, the fireman got off the roof, and things started rolling.  Flames shot out of the attic space above the chapel and soon engulfed most of the roof above that area.  I was astounded as were all who just minutes before were sitting in the building.  The roof caved in and through the big and beautiful round window in the back of the chapel you could see the orange flames everywhere inside.  It was a surreal experience.
  This building also housed the Institute of Religion for the Boston area and CES offices for most of New England.  Luckily, the fire was doused before it reached the library of the Institute.  The firemen, bless each of them, pulled out the books and transported them on gurneys outside.  The good people of the Society of Friends (of the Quaker religion) offered the use of their building to house the books.  Their building is directly across the way from our church.  A long line of people from the congregation was quickly organized and the books, some of them wet and sooty but none burned, was passed from one person to the next across the park, street, and down into the Society of Friends basement.  Along with several other librarians and book preservationists I spent the next few hours going through books and categorizing them into dry, sort of wet, and wow- really wet.  There were even some paintings and prints from inside that were saved.  
  It was sad to see the beautiful and sentimental building go up in flames.  However, as with any tragedy the Lord provides miracles - many miracles.  The miracles have already started... no one was injured in the fire, the books - thousands of books , were saved, and people of various faiths from around Cambridge came together to lend support and comfort.  
 For photos of the fire see the following:

1 comment:

emilyg said...

I'm very glad that no one was hurt. So sorry about your building! It looks like an absolutely beautiful building. Any word on where you'll be housed until it's rebuilt?