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LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Authorities are investigating what sparked a blaze that heavily damaged the Knights of Columbus Hall in storm-ravaged Long Beach early Monday morning.
More than 100 firefighters from six fire departments responded to the fire, which broke just before 3 a.m.
“I seen flames about 20 feet high,” said neighbor Eamon Donohoe.
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The fire damaged more than the building. For those hit hard by the storm, the hall served as a lifeline.
“What happened to our town was a heartbreak and then this was our glue between all that because we lost our homes and we would go there, talk and all be there,” said Sandy victim Laurise Frey.
Without power and a flooded out basement, the Knights, a Catholic-based service organization, raised half a million dollars in donations for Sandy victims. They also gave out clothing and other supplies and provided three hot meals a day using a generator.
“It was about the smile on people’s face, being able to help,” said Grand Knight Ron Browne, who heads the group. “It actually hurts. I don’t know what happened.”
Power was just restored Sunday when the Knights fed 150 people. They were looking forward to re-building, but now the hall will likely be knocked down.
“We were going to start renovating,” said Knights volunteer Peggy Attanasio. ”That’s what they were going to do and it’s just devastating to see it go up.”
But Browne said the Knights will bounce back.
“We’re tough down here — the west end of Long Beach, that’s for sure,” he said.
There were no reports of injuries.
Authorities are investigating.
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