Englewood Antioch Missionary Baptist Church still burns 3 days after initial fire

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ENGLEWOOD – Three days after a massive fire destroyed the roof of a church in Englewood, firefighters are still working to put the blaze down.

The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 6248 S. Stewart Avenue, caught fire Friday afternoon, hours after a Good Friday service. The fire destroyed the roof of the century-old building, leaving a single pillar and shattered windows.

Although the blaze was initially extinguished around 4 p.m. Friday, crews have visited the South Side Church at least three times since then as the blaze has reignited, the spokesman said. fire department, Larry Langford.

On Monday afternoon, firefighters were back at the church battling the blaze as smoke filled the air.

“It’s a very heavy build, and when the roof collapsed it trapped a lot of the burning material where we couldn’t get water to it,” Langford said. “As it slowly burned through what was left, it took in air and entered more open areas. Now it’s a full blown fire again.

Due to the density of the roof material, the crews were able to “knock down the flame”, but not extinguish it.

Firefighters cannot enter the church because it is dangerous, Langford said. The only solution is to use the “circle and drown” method, he said.

“Woods are falling and things are igniting again. Fire is hard to reach,” Langford said. “There was a fire deep inside the building. After drying, it begins to spread again. We need to get more gear to be able to shoot it down from above.

Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Donald Walker said more than 184 firefighters with more than 50 pieces of equipment responded to battle strong flames in the roof on Friday.

On Saturday, the Bureau of Fire Investigations determined that a roofer’s propane torch accidentally started the blaze.

On Sunday, worshipers gathered at a nearby funeral home for an Easter service. Pastor Gerald M. Dew focused on the resurrection, but acknowledged that the next step for the church is unclear. He asked for donations to help with the next steps, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Antioch missionary was born from the Salem Baptist Church in 1922 and got his start in Bronzeville in February 1925, according to the church’s website. He moved several times over the next three decades before purchasing the church building at Englewood and Stewart Avenues at Foster Park Baptist Church in 1958, according to the website.

In the late 1990s, Antioch had about 4,500 parishioners, according to the church’s website.

Dew took over as pastor in 2001. The church then launched a $450,000 renovation, including overhauls to the sanctuary, kitchen, banquet hall, chapel, restrooms, offices and meeting rooms, according to the website. The church has also upgraded its public address system and technology.

Dew could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Credit: Atavia Reed/Block Club Chicago
A massive fire at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Englewood on April 15, 2022. The roof was ripped open and the building suffered massive fire and smoke damage.

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