Mary Margaret Olohan
A Minneapolis Catholic Church was heavily damaged in a fire Monday evening as protests took place throughout the city ahead of a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd.
Videos posted online show the fire roaring through the roof of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Northeast Minneapolis, about a 13-minute drive from where a protest took place Monday night, according to local reporter Ryan Raiche.
Raiche’s photographs show smoke billowing away from the building and firefighters battling the blaze. The cause of the fire is being investigated, and it is unclear whether it is related to the protests.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday that ATF certified fire investigators responded to the scene with Minneapolis Fire Department, noting that this is standard procedure for houses of worship.
“Much remains to be determined for this fire,” ATF St. Paul Field Division spokeswoman Ashlee J.L. Sherrill told the DCNF. “Any information about the origin and cause will come from the lead agency (Minneapolis Fire).”
A Minneapolis Fire Department spokeswoman told the DCNF Tuesday morning that the report on the fire has not yet been completed and will likely not be completed until Friday. The Minneapolis Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the DCNF.
Firefighters arrived on the scene and began fighting the fire around 7pm, according to the Star Tribune. The publication reported that heavy flames were seen at the back of the church at the time, and the firefighters called extra personnel and equipment to the scene.
“Crews have switched to a defensive exterior attack,” the Minneapolis Fire Department tweeted around 8:20 pm. “Crews have master stream nozzles flowing water and have an aerial ladder to roofline for water tower operations.”
“There is a partial roof collapse of the structure on the bravo side,” the department tweeted around 8:45 that evening. “Crews have moved rigs out of the collapse zone of the bell tower.”
The Minneapolis Fire Department tweeted around 9 pm that most of the roof had collapsed but that the bell tower was still standing.
“Crews have bulk of the fire knocked down,” the department tweeted at 9:45 pm. “Shutting down the blitz fire handlines and deck gun. The two aerial ladder water towers are remaining in place to continue to extinguish hotspots and flair-ups.”
A GoFundMe for the church already raised almost $6,500 as of 3 PM Tuesday.
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