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6 injured in Easter Sunday fire inside Brooklyn church, FDNY says

Brooklyn churchgoers devastated by Easter Sunday fire
Brooklyn churchgoers devastated by Easter Sunday fire 02:27

NEW YORK -- A fire destroyed part of a church in Brooklyn on Easter Sunday.

Officials said it happened during afternoon Mass. The smoke filled the building as parishioners ran out to safety.

The cause has not yet been determined.

For parishioners of the Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii on Seigel Street in Williamsburg, a part of their beloved church burned out was a sight difficult to see.

"It's such a shame. I don't [know] why, how it happened, especially on Easter Sunday," said Gloria Ortiz of East Williamsburg.

Watch Naveen Dhaliwal's report

6 injured in Easter Sunday fire inside Brooklyn church, FDNY says 02:07

The fire started during an afternoon service.

"Right away I see the smoke and say, 'Everybody get out!'" church employee Salvador Gonzales said.

Gonzales said he immediately alerted the 150 parishioners to evacuate.

"People listening, people crying," Gonzales said.

Heavy and fast flames engulfed the rectory and parish center.

"We had over 200 firefighters and medical personal to the scene," said FDNY First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Pfeifer said.

Officials said one firefighter fell through one of the floors, prompting a mayday call to be issued for him. Two other firefighters were also among those injured.

"He bounced up off the floor and wanted to run back up the stairs to address the mayday issue, not realizing the mayday was for himself. He was unhurt, thank God," said Mike Meyers, the FDNY's citywide tour commander.

That's the strength and tenacity of our city's Bravest.

For those who worship at Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii, "The church is everything for us," Gonzales said.

Gonzales has spent 60 years watching his church, which he says is the center of the community and his family.

"This is tremendous. This is my church. My church is second house to me. This is too much, too much for me. My church is a second house to me," Gonzales said.

But as difficult as the situation is, officials say the main part of the church with water and smoke damage is salvageable, adding there were only six minor injuries.

"It's almost has if God was watching over community and these people and they can continue to rejoin in resurrection of the Lord," said John Quaglione, press secretary of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Church officials said they have not yet determined the extent of the damage in the rectory and parish center, but those who were living there will be moved to temporarily living quarters at a sister church.

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