Historic Berkeley church red-tagged after 4-alarm fire

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Flames gutted Berkeley's First Congregational Church Friday. Church leaders spent the day finding a place to hold services Sunday. Church leaders are vowing to rebuild. (KGO-TV)

Flames gutted Berkeley's First Congregational Church Friday. Church leaders spent the day finding a place to hold Sunday services. Church leaders are vowing to rebuild.

A fence went up around the historic Berkeley church where a massive fire tore through Pilgrim Hall, housing offices and classrooms. The 4-alarm blaze caused the roof to collapse. The brick building has been red tagged.

PHOTOS: 4-alarm fire at Berkeley church sends plumes of smoke into air


"All that's holding up the bricks are the bricks below them, so any small earthquake, or wind conditions, any shifting of debris, could cause a collapse," said Berkeley Fire Department Assistant Chief Dave Brannigan.

Click here to help donate to a relief fund for the church.

"I'm thinking this will be a lot of work, but we can do hard things," Church Rev. Molly Baskette.

Baskette is vowing to rebuild. The church sanctuary will be off limits for a while. It suffered extensive ceiling damage, but all the musical instruments inside were saved. In the meantime, the Presbyterian Church next door, will open its doors for Sunday services at 2 p.m.

RELATED: Fire causes roof collapse in more than 100-year-old Berkeley church

"As you can imagine what people most need at a time like this is to be together, sing and pray," Baskette said.

"Our kids grew up here. They went to church in those rooms, lots of memories," said church member Moe Wright.

Street closures around the fire caused headaches and traffic for Cal Bears fans trying to get to the homecoming game against Utah.

"We kind of messed up and went the wrong way, added an extra half hour to the trip," said Cal fram Christine Kittle.

A middle school for boys on church property wasn't damaged. There was no word on a cause, but roofwork was underway to install new solar panels.
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