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East Village fire damages 128-year-old church

A fire broke out in a vacant East Village building early Saturday morning, then spread to a 128-year-old church, causing significant damage to its sanctuary, according to firefighters and a pastor at the church.

The cause of the fire at 47 East 7th Street, which was reported at 4:48 a.m., is under investigation, officials said. Its cause is not yet known. Four firefighters were slightly injured, said John Hodgens, a deputy fire chief.

The fire spread to Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue and another building on Seventh Street, he said.

The Middle Church was built in 1892 and has a congregation of about 1,300 members, said Reverend Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft, the church’s executive minister for justice, education and movement building.

The church’s sanctuary and Tiffany stained glass windows were significantly damaged, she told ABC7-New York.

“We are trying to save the steeple,” said the reverend, who said she lives in the neighborhood and has gone to the church to examine the damage.

She said she hoped the church could be rebuilt.

“God will be here with us as we rebuild from this point on,” she said. “It is a horribly sad day for our congregation and for this neighborhood.”