Fire leads to partial roof collapse at Montclair church; 2 firefighters suffer minor injuries

A prayer service is scheduled for 7 p.m. at The Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair on Norwood Avenue.

Ali Reid and Lanette Espy

Aug 15, 2023, 1:21 PM

Updated 314 days ago

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Firefighters battled intense flames and heavy smoke for hours Tuesday morning after a fire broke out at Grace Presbyterian Church in Montclair.
Fire Chief John Herrmann told News 12 New Jersey no one was inside at the time, but the damage was extensive. Two firefighters were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
Photo credit: Ali Reid/News 12 New Jersey
The fire started around 8 a.m., sent black smoke soaring into the sky and caused a partial roof collapse.
“Church fires are difficult because of age, wood structures, the air in the space like that. The fire spread rapidly, and members did a terrific job at containing everything they could,” Herrmann said.
News 12's Chris Keating speaks to a number of church members. Watch below:
The church's secretary arrived at the church around 8 a.m. to begin her workday when she noticed smoke coming from the basement and immediately called 911.
Herrmann confirmed with News 12 that the fire started in the basement and spread to the first floor.
Photo credit: Ali Reid/News 12 New Jersey
Grace Presbyterian Church has been around since the 1920s. Pastor Robin Curras says she received a call early in the morning and says she rushed over as soon as she heard the news.
“I want to vomit and I want to cry. It’s devastating. It doesn’t feel real,” Curras said. “We are just wondering what’s the damage. We all want to know why.”
Photo credit: Ali Reid/News 12 New Jersey
An investigative unit remained on the scene as fire crews worked to put out hot spots.
A prayer service is scheduled for 7 p.m. at The Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair on Norwood Avenue.


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