Six-alarm fire destroys building at 116 Second Avenue and severely damages historic Middle Collegiate Church in East Village

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A six-alarm fire early Saturday morning destroyed 116 Second Avenue, a vacant 15-unit, five-story building in the East Village, and severely damaged 128-year-old Middle Collegiate Church next door. The fire was first reported at 4:48 a.m. and quickly spread to the historic church at 112 Second Avenue, located between East 6th and 7th Streets. It took 44 units with 198 firefighters to contain the hell, and four firefighters sustained minor injuries that were not life threatening. A third structure on East 7th Street also caught fire, but luckily everyone inside was able to escape to safety. There is still no word as to the exact cause of the fire at this time.

Fire at 116 Second Avenue. Photo by Matt Pruznick

Incredibly, this is the second fire to emanate from 116 Second Avenue this year. A three-alarm fire in the building in late February was attributed to faulty electrical wiring. Five firefighters were treated for minor injuries in the blaze and the two ground floor tenants, Cafe Mocha and Via Della Pace, were forced to close.

Yesterday’s fire surely signals the end of the building, whose roof and floor plates have collapsed, leaving only a strange masonry shell. Demolition will likely begin immediately after the fire is completely extinguished.

Fire at 116 Second Avenue. Photo by Matt Pruznick

It is not known what awaits Middle Collegiate Church, whose nave has completely collapsed, although its steeple and main facade have remained largely intact. Its colorful Tiffany stained glass windows, however, have been destroyed. Designed by SB Reed, the place of worship is co-affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Reformed Church in America and will continue to host virtual services led by its senior minister, the Reverend Jacqui Lewis.

Fire at 116 Second Avenue. Photo by Matt Pruznick

This corner is no stranger to drama. Diagonally to the corner is the site of the 2015 gas explosion, which destroyed 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue and killed two people. The land now gives birth to 45 East 7th Street, a seven-story condominium by Morris Adjmi Architects. Given the residential appeal of the neighborhood, it is likely that 116 Second Avenue will eventually follow.

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