FDNY: Blaze Breaks out in Church During Easter Mass

April 1, 2024
An FDNY lieutenant who fell through the floor tried to run back up the stairs not realizing the 'Mayday' was for him.

Gardiner Anderson, Elizabeth Keogh

New York Daily News


Six people were injured when a fire broke out in a Brooklyn church during an Easter Mass, officials and witnesses said.

Firefighters were called to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei Church on Seigel St. near McKibben Court in Bushwick just before 1:50 p.m., police said.

Fire officials on the scene late Sunday afternoon said about 150 people were attending Mass when they smelled smoke and called 911.

“There was a Mass happening at that time,” said the woman, who did not want to be named. “We saw the smoke, and everybody went out.”

As firefighters worked to knock down the flames in the neighboring rectory of the church, witnesses told the Daily News that a priest ran into the church and emerged several minutes later carrying the consecrated host and a chalice wrapped in cloth.

Firefighters working inside were met with such heavy flames and dangerous conditions that a lieutenant fell from the second floor to the first when the floor underneath him gave out, FDNY Assistant Chief Michael Meyers said at a news briefing.

“To show the strength and tenacity and determination of our firefighters, they gave the Mayday for him, [and] he didn’t realize that the Mayday was for him so he bounced up off the floor,” Meyers said. “[He] came in and wanted to run back up the stairs to address the Mayday issue not realizing that the Mayday was himself.”

Six people suffered minor injuries in the blaze, including three firefighters. Four of those injured were treated on the scene, and two were taken to area hospitals.

“I’m happy to report, Easter Sunday … nobody with any life-threatening injuries at this time,” said FDNY First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Pfeifer.

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