Fire Chief Michael Sullivan
One Union St.
Wakefield, MA 01880
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Wakefield Fire Department Extinguishes Seven-Alarm Fire at First Baptist Church
WAKEFIELD — Chief Michael Sullivan reports that the Wakefield Fire Department responded to a seven-alarm fire last night that destroyed the First Baptist Church.
At 7 p.m., Wakefield Fire received an automatic alert from the First Baptist Church, 8 Lafayette St., of a fire in progress.
Firefighters arrived on scene a minute later and shift commander Capt. Paul Pronco reported fire showing at the front of the church near the steeple. At the time of the fire, a group was meeting inside the church, but safely exited the building prior to firefighters’ arrival.
Shortly thereafter, the fire broke out and extended the full length of the 150-foot steeple, moving to the front of the church, all the way to the back. Capt. Pronco immediately struck a second alarm, followed several minutes later by a third alarm, and then a fourth alarm.
The fire soon took possession of the church and Wakefield Fire continued to strike alarms to bring in additional resources, with the fire eventually reaching seven alarms.
Approximately two dozen departments responded, utilizing 15 different hydrants to make an aggressive exterior attack. More than 100 firefighters dumped several million gallons of water onto the fire, which burned for about three hours.
Crews remained on scene overnight extinguishing flames in various voids throughout the building. Firefighters are currently at the church clearing hot spots.
“Steeple fires are extremely hard to extinguish given their design and location on churches,” Chief Sullivan said. “This fire was throwing off a tremendous amount of heat and required an immense amount of resources to knock down. Firefighters did a tremendous job making an aggressive attack, and I want to thank our neighboring communities for their assistance throughout the night.”
Three firefighters suffered non-life threatening injuries and were treated on scene.
With more than a million dollars worth of damages, the church has been deemed a total loss. The building next to the church, which houses eight condo units and the restaurant Artichokes, sustained exterior heat damage. A large shed that belongs to the church also sustained heat damage.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Wakefield Fire Department, however Chief Sullivan believes that a lightening strike likely ignited the blaze.