A three-alarm fire scorched a church attic in a quiet neighborhood Thursday afternoon, a few days after the church’s new pastor launched his debut ceremony.
The pastor’s family, and dozens of neighbors, looked on as fire crews smashed holes into the roof of Redwood Baptist Church at 2323 Euclid Ave., while smoke streamed from the roof. Redwood City Battalion Chief Geoff Balton said the damage could have been a lot worse.
Firefighters first received a call at 2:27 p.m. and arrived at the scene seven minutes later. The fire quickly grew to a second then a third alarm in less than an hour. About 45 firefighters were on the scene from several departments, along with 12 engines and three ladder trucks.
“[Church fires] have a tendency to get really big because of the gigantic space,” Balton said.
The fire was declared under control at 3:53 p.m. Firefighters closed off Euclid and McGarvey avenues to traffic. The interior of the attic sustained heavy damage and the floor had some water damage, Balton said.
No one was injured and no one was inside at the time, said Jon Azzarello, son of head pastor David Azzarello, who had recently purchased the church. A preschool class, in session in an adjacent building at the time of the fire, was evacuated to another building on church grounds as parents picked up their kids. He said the family did not know what was in the attic.
Jon Azzarello said a church secretary was told by an on-site manual worker that smoke was coming from the roof and called 911. He said the blaze was most likely caused by a hired welder, who was dismantling steel hooks from the roof.
“A spark must’ve gotten under the roof,” he said as he looked on.
Jon Azzarello’s wife, Rachel, said the family had planned to hold an official kickoff party at the church this weekend.