Massive fire ravages West Philly church

UPDATED: 4:40 p.m.

WEST PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A West Philly church was set ablaze Tuesday afternoon in a massive second-alarm fire.

The area surrounding the Greater Bible Way Temple near 52nd Street and Lancaster Avenue is cornered off by fire officials, who are directing at least 10 large fire hoses at the church.

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said they were on the scene within minutes, including more than 75 fire officials and dozens of trucks.

The fire ravaged the entire church, and not much of the roof is left. Adjacent buildings may have to be evacuated.

Thiel noted it is not under control, but he believes it will not exceed two alarms. 

“This is still an active fire fight,” he said. “We’ll be here certainly all night.”

Officials say no one was injured, and all of the people inside the church were safely evacuated. One civilian was transported to the hospital for unknown causes.

The inside of the church is still on fire. Thiel said they’re worried the building may collapse completely. 

“There are parts of the building that have already collapsed into it. We have parts of the building that collapsed out into the street,” he said. “We’re sort of in a standoff mode, what we call an exterior defensive attack.”

Thiel said people should avoid the area, as the neighborhood is blanketed with dark smoke. Anyone who is having difficulty breathing as a result of the smoke should call 911.

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This is a developing story. Stay with KYW Newsradio for updates.

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