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Extra-Alarm Fire Destroys Gary Church

A church in Gary, Ind., was destroyed by an extra-alarm fire overnight. (Credit: CBS)

A church in Gary, Ind., was destroyed by an extra-alarm fire overnight. (Credit: CBS)

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GARY, Ind. (CBS) – A small building used by a church in Gary, Ind., was gutted by an extra-alarm blaze overnight.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports a good chunk of the building at 8th Avenue and Washington Street collapsed, but no one was injured during the blaze.

The fire started around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. The building was vacant, for the most part, though the God’s House of Prayer Church had been renting space there, including for programs to reach out to the homeless.

The pastor said one volunteer was inside when the fire started, but got out safe.

“We’re grateful, and thankful to God that no one was hurt. Of course, we did lose things, but we believe in god, and by the grace of God we’ll recover; we’ll regain,” Pastor Atte Eskew said.

The church has about 25 members in its congregation, and will need to find a new space for services and its programs for the homeless.

Previously, the building had housed a hotel and apartment building.

Fire Chief Teresa Everette said crews checked out the Gary Charter Middle School across the street to make sure it was structurally sound, due to concerns from the debris created by the fire at the church.

She said the school was not damaged, but it might be closed Thursday as a precaution.

“School personnel have been contacted to advise them, because there’s a significant amount of debris on the streets, and there’s a possibility that the school will be closed,” Everette said.

School administrators have yet to determine if the school will close on Thursday, but authorities wanted to make sure it’s safe and clear for students to be there Thursday morning.