The fire in the church of Rochester leaves one person dead, officials say the cause is under further investigation.


Emergency personnel in Rochester, New York, responded to a fire that broke out outside the basement of a local church on Thursday morning, killing one person. The firefighters did not immediately identify the deceased person, nor did they provide any information about the person’s connection to the church after putting out the flames.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, a representative of the Rochester Fire Department told reporters from Spectrum News Rochester during a brief interview at the scene. The department confirmed this information directly in comments to later on Thursday.

Lieutenant Ryan Fleming, the fire department’s public relations officer, said crew members received a phone call reporting that smoke was emitted from the Immanuel Baptist Church at 8:30 ET on Thursday. The first unit of the fire department arrived on the scene within three minutes of receiving the report, Fleming told Spectrum News. At first they didn’t find anything,” he explained. As the firefighters entered the building, they followed the trail of smoke to its point of origin below the church’s ground-level entrance.

“After further investigation, they found the source of the smoke and fire in the basement. And unfortunately, there was a deceased victim in the building,” Fleming said. “At the moment the fire is being investigated and the crew is working to find out what happened.

According to Spectrum News reporter Scott Barstow, Rochester firefighters discovered the deceased in the basement of Immanuel Church after identifying the smoke source. Fleming told that details about the victim were not available on Thursday afternoon.

Photos and videos provided to Barstow’s Twitter account about an hour after the firefighters arrived at the scene showed Rochester firefighters and police gathered outside the church entrance. Yellow tape, which marked the area as the scene of the crime and instructed passers-by not to pass through, surrounded the periphery of the building.

Someone who arrived at the church this morning called and said he smelled smoke in the structure. When a fire broke out, they found a small fire in the basement. #roc @SPECNewsROC

– scott barstow (@barstow_scott) October 29, 2020

In additional comments to reporters from Rochester First, another local news station, Fleming reportedly confirmed that officials from the city’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were involved in the investigation. He said that cooperation between the two departments is standard procedure when someone is killed in a fire. Fleming also confirmed that, according to Rochester First, no one else was harmed by the incident.

“We are not taking this lightly,” said Rochester First. Every time we have a fatal fire or someone is seriously or seriously injured, we as a department do not take it lightly,” he said in a report to the news organization. “So this is a sad day for us, every time we have a fatal fire”. contacted Rochester Police on Thursday morning to ask for more details about the fire and to investigate the cause of the fire, but received no response. This report will be updated with each response.

The Rochester Police Department came under national observation in September after a video showing officers forcibly detaining Daniel Prude, a black man, during an arrest prior to his death appeared in the social media. The release of the video sparked mass protests in upstate New York City and led to increased conflict between local law enforcement agencies and the surrounding community.

This story was updated at 14:45 ET to include Fleming’s confirmation and additional comments about the morning fire….


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