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Fire damages West Side church

Firefighters extinguished an extra-alarm blaze Saturday morning thcaused extensive damage West Side church.
Crews responded just after 6 a.m. 3540 W.

Firefighters extinguished an extra-alarm blaze Saturday morning that caused extensive damage to a West Side church. Crews responded just after 6 a.m. to 3540 W. 15th St. for a reported fire, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Joe Roccasalva said. The New Life Temple church is at that address. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: September 3, 2011 12:33AM

An extra-alarm fire ripped through a historic West Side church early Saturday, causing damage that could exceed $100,000.

Firefighters found flames shooting through the roof of the New Life Temple Church of God in Christ about 6 a.m. at 3540 W. 15th St. , Chicago Fire Department spokesman Joe Roccasalva said.

“It appears it started on the first floor, near the pulpit,” Chicago Police Department spokesman John Mirabelli said.

No one was injured.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, though it likely was caused by an overloaded electrical cord, according to a Chicago Police Bomb and Arson Unit sergeant.

“It was not suspicious,’’ the sergeant said.

There was extensive damage to the interior of the building and many stained-glass windows were destroyed, Roccasalva said.

Louis Wimbley, a member of the congregation, said the church’s organ and sound system were lost in the blaze. He said the damages could exceed $100,000. He said the congregation will make plans to rebuild.

“Right now we’re just worried about getting back up,” he said. “We are the church. This is just the building.”

Elondia Brown, a leader of the church along with her husband, Pastor Dave Brown, stood outside the charred building in tears Saturday.

“We’ll discuss where we go from here,” she said, looking up at the 84-year-old church, which was once a synagogue. “It was a beautiful edifice.”

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