Fire destroys vacant East Side church

A 911 caller noticed smoke before dawn Sunday at the former Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church at 10310 S. Avenue H.

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Firefighters battled a blaze Sunday morning at the former Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church at 10310 S. Avenue H.

Firefighters battled a blaze Sunday morning at the former Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church at 10310 S. Avenue H.

Chicago Fire Department

A fire ripped through an abandoned church on East Side early Sunday, prompting more than 100 firefighters to respond, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

A 911 caller noticed smoke around 4:30 a.m. at the former Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church at 10310 S. Avenue H, according to CFD Deputy District Chief Walter Schroeder.

Firefighters responded but almost immediately went on the defensive.

They “could not find the seat of the fire and backed out of the dangerousness of the abandoned building,” Schroeder said.

Firefighters battled a blaze Sunday morning at the former Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church at 10310 S. Avenue H.

Firefighters battled a blaze Sunday morning at the former Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church at 10310 S. Avenue H.

Chicago Fire Department

Flames ripped through the church’s nave and its roof caved in, according to photos shared by the Fire Department.

Fearing the church walls would collapse, CFD evacuated a family of four from a home just south of the church, Schroeder said.

No one was injured in the blaze, he said.

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Search efforts were hampered by at least three feet of water in the basement of the adjacent school, which Schroeder said had not caught fire.

Firefighters were still dousing hotspots at the church at 10:30 a.m., Schroeder said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, he said.

The church was built in 1919, Schroeder said.

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