4-alarm fire destroys San Jose church

Monday, November 17, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

At least 100 firefighters were called in to battle a 4-alarm fire at the Holy Cross Parish church in San Jose on Sunday afternoon.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Crews contained a four-alarm fire that destroyed a church in San Jose Sunday afternoon.

Crews responded to a report of a structure fire at Holy Cross Parish at 580 E. Jackson St. around 2:20 p.m.

The pastor said mass had just ended when the fire broke out, so no one was in the building.

People on the scene tweeted photos of crews battling the fire.

At least 100 firefighters were called in to battle the fire. Officials said the flames spread so fast that there was no way they could save the 100-year-old church.

Officials say the building is made of heavy timber, so crews couldn't get a handle on the flames. Crews quickly went into defensive mode and let the building burn.

The diverse congregation is made up of 600 families. Mass is held in English, Spanish, Tagalog and Italian.

Parishioners ABC7 News spoke with said they have been going to Holy Cross Parish church for decades and they are heartbroken.

"I made my first holy communion here, my confirmation here. My kids made their first communion here, they were baptized here. It's sad," one woman said.

"I hate see go down 40 years of my life for my church, but got to start all over again," one man said.

"We are still looking at what happened and hopefully nobody is going to get hurt and we can go forward with the help from the Lord and also from the backing of our community," Pastor Firmo Mantovani said.

While the sanctuary was destroyed, the rectory is OK and so are other buildings on the property, so parishioners say mass could still be held on church grounds at least temporarily.

One firefighter was treated for a medical complaint sustained while he was battling the fire.

The historic building was founded as a mission of the St. Patrick's Church in 1906, according to the church's website. It traditionally served Italian immigrants who lived in the north side of the neighborhood.

Crews contained the fire around 5 p.m. and will remain on scene overnight to make sure no smoldering embers erupt again into flames.

Initial reports indicate the fire started on the second floor near the pipe organ, but the official cause has not yet been determined and is under investigation.

Bay City News contributed to this story.