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Church Destroyed In Extra-Alarm Blaze In Roseland; Firefighter Injured

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago firefighter was injured Monday afternoon while helping extinguish an extra-alarm blaze that destroyed a church in the Roseland neighborhood.

The fire started around noon on the second floor Beacon Light Ministries at 11034 S. Michigan Av., according to a Chicago Fire Department spokesperson.

Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Barry Garr said the first crews on the scene had trouble getting inside to pour water on the flames, because "it was locked up pretty tight."

As the size of the fire grew, the commanding officer on the scene decided to fight the blaze from a defensive position.

"We had reports that, because it was locked up the way that it was, and the fact that we could not gain entry safely at this time, due to the large volume of fire that was reported, all of our searches were put on hold," Garr said.

Firefighters were not able to search the building before extinguishing the blaze, but Garr said church officials found out about the fire right away, and the church's pastor confirmed no one would have been inside at the time.

Garr said firefighters also encountered problems with a frozen hydrant when they first arrived, but the city's Water Department responded right away to open the hydrant.

The roof and part of the front wall on the second floor collapsed in the blaze.

Bishop Jerome Powell said he was taking a group of kids to the museum for Martin Luther King Day, when he got a call about the fire.

Powell said the church has an attached community outreach building; used for donated items such as food, clothing, furniture, and school supplies for the needy. Powell said it's all gone.

Garr confirmed the building was essentially destroyed in the blaze.

"It does appear that the building is an entire loss," Garr said.

The fire was extinguished by about 1:30 p.m., but Garr said crews would remain on the scene for at least a couple more hours to prevent the fire from flaring up again.

One firefighter suffered a minor laceration during the fire, and was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital for treatment.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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