Tragedy in Cambridge, MA

This morning at approximately 10:37 AM during the regional Stake Conference broadcast, the fire alarm sounded in the Longfellow Park LDS Chapel in Cambridge, MA.  At first, most thought it was a false alarm, but as people poured onto the street, it was evident that the fire was already serious.  Copious amounts of smoke were pouring from under the eaves and the fire seemed to be mostly in the attic.  It quickly escalated and firemen are still working to put out the flames.

The building was constructed in the 1950’s just outside of Harvard Square in one of the most beautiful parts of Cambridge, just across the street from the Longfellow House.  Countless general authorities, LDS scholars, and dozens of bloggernacle members have called this building their spiritual home at one time or another.  More information to come.

These photos were all taken within 20 minutes after the building was evacuated, between 10:43 and 10:55.

Update 1: No injuries.  By 12 PM, announcements were made around the stake at the conclusion of the Stake Conference that it already appeared that the building would have to be entirely rebuilt.

11 Replies to “Tragedy in Cambridge, MA”

  1. With calling it a “tragedy” and then leading in with “at first everyone thought the fire alarm was fake,” I was thinking people had died. It is very sad and I’m sorry for the people grieving a place what was special to them, but you had me terribly worried there!

  2. I hope the Church builds a new building that looks to “blend in” with the neighborhood and not a cookie cutter meetinghouse.

  3. Here are some additional updates as of this evening.

    Dramatic photos and video taken by a member at the scene are posted here.

    The fire department still has custody of the building as of 11pm Sunday night. Once it is released, the restoration company that the church has hired will board up the first floor windows (per City of Cambridge) and then start cleaning out the inside. Decisions about rebuilding with the facade intact versus total tear-down are still pending.

    The steeple sits on an i-beam frame which has been warped by the 1100-degree fire (so one of the firemen told me) and the structural engineers indicated that this made the steeple structurally unstable, and therefore it will most likely be taken down by crane in the next few days.

    Because a church catching fire with attendees inside is unusual, an ATF investigation may be undertaken.

  4. An ATF investigation MAY be undertaken? I’d certainly hope so. Sounds like arson to me.

  5. We had a fire in our attic a couple of years ago, and even though most of the damage was from the ceiling up, the entire house had to be rebuilt; only the frame from the original house remains, along with some of the tile flooring.

    Sometimes it’s just 10-year-old (or older) wiring that decides it’s had enough for some strange reason.

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