Officials: 4-alarm fire destroys Elizabeth church that opened in 1879

Posted: Updated:

A fire destroyed a church that has stood in Elizabeth for over a century early Sunday.

The four-alarm fire started just after 3 a.m. at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Murray Street.

No injuries were reported, but the fire was so intense it caused firefighters to pull back at one point.

The second floor of the building collapsed into the first floor and then into the basement.

The building next to the church, which is home to Community Access Unlimited, was left with minor fire and water damage. Some families are being temporarily relocated from that building, but fire officials don't believe it will be for long.

Church members were upset and caught off guard.

"It's just horrible, devastating," says Donna Hunter. "I can't believe it. I was a member of this church for over 20 years."

The church has been a pillar in the community since 1879.

Services that were supposed to take place at Shiloh Baptist Church at 11 a.m. were instead taking place at 6 p.m. at the Union Baptist Church.

People from the community of different faiths and parishes came together on Murray Street Sunday to show their support for the congregation and commemorate the historical importance of the church.

Gov. Phil Murphy also responded to the fire on Twitter saying, "Devastated by the fire at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Elizabeth. Grateful to our first responders. Thoughts and prayers to the congregation and leadership during this difficult time."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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