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Saratoga County

Officials: Church fire was accidental

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Albany/HV: Officials: Church fire was accidental
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We're finding out more about the fire that ripped through a Philmont church on Tuesday. State Police have determined the cause of the fire to be accidental, although they are still unsure exactly how the fire started. Our Alexandra Weishaupt has more on how this "church family" plans to move forward.

PHILMONT, N.Y. -- A close-knit church community hopes to now pick up the pieces after their historic church was overcome by a massive fire. The fire broke out at the Second Reformed Church of Claverack on Church Street around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“The damage is extensive. We’re going to be able to get inside and salvage records,” said John Howe, Columbia County fire coordinator.

Records that date back to the late 1800s along with a stained glass window in the back of the church, which has been admired by so many over the years.

“I can remember it’s the first thing you saw when you walked into the church. It's absolutely gorgeous,” said Dale Rowe, a Philmont resident.

And many others like Dale share similar memories of the church. The 50 member congregation who refers to themselves as "family" is celebrating 175 years of worship in the historic building, a place Reverend Dan Herrick says is filled with memories.

“There are some emotional attachments to this building - a lot of baptisms, marriages, funerals,” said Rev. Herrick, Second Reformed Church of Claverack.

Crews worked into the morning hours to get the fire, believed to have been started in the front of the building, under control. On Wednesday, they worked to determine a cause.

“We’re early in the investigation, conducting interviews and we’re processing the building,” said Howe.

But as the building sits as an empty shell in the center of town, Reverend Dan says the congregation is already considering rebuilding.

“We will have handicapped accessible building, we will have all the things we couldn't because the building was so old,” he said.

The Methodist and Episcopalian churches have offered the parish their facility for this coming Sunday. Like investigators said, it will be some time before they are able to determine a cause.

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