Reporter @ WPVI Channel 6 Action News
PHILADELPHIA -- More than 100 firefighters responded to the scene of a 4-alarm blaze at a church in East Oak Lane in Philadelphia.
Flames ripped through the roof of Saint Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church located at North 12th Street and Oak Lane.
It began around 1:00 Sunday afternoon. Church members had just left the building 10 minutes before the fire started.
"Suddenly we smell smoke," said Peter Kluk, Church Vice President.
Kluk says moments later there were flames.
Engine 63 is just two doors down and firefighters responded within two minutes, hiking a water line down the street.
The fire was so intense after the 1st alarm that crews inside had to back out of the structure 38 minutes into the battling blaze.
A 4th alarm was struck shortly before 2:30 p.m.
Crews began to focus on the flames that appeared to start somewhere up high.
"There was a larger tower that fell early. It fell into the church roof, it caused a collapse in there. If we had people inside, it would have been a bad situation," said Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
The fire were brought under control after 3:00 p.m. and despite the damage, there were no injuries reported.
"Nobody was inside. God bless, God bless," said Orisya Khanas.
The pastor's wife says her husband tried to run inside when he arrived.
"He tried to open the door, he tried going inside but he couldn't. The fire department took him because it was really dangerous," said Khanas.
The church has been here since 1922. Khanas says they will figure out where to go next.
PGW, PECO and Red Cross teams were also called to the scene.
At least 150 homes in the neighborhood are without power.
As for the cause of the blaze, it remains under investigation.