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Christmas Eve Services To Go Ahead At Brooklyn Church Apparently Targeted By Arsonist

Fire Damage At The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew In Clinton Hill (credit: CBS 2)

Fire Damage At The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew In Clinton Hill (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Christmas Eve services will go ahead at a Brooklyn Episcopal church severely damaged by a two alarm fire Sunday.

Much of the damage is in the lobby of the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill.

“We believe that it was arson. There are some gas cans that were found at both entrances. So, it was intentional,” Father Chris Ballard told CBS 2’s Dardashtian Sunday.

Christmas Eve services were in jeopardy, but Ballard confirmed to 1010 WINS Monday they will go ahead as planned.

The gas canisters were at the church ready to be donated to Sandy victims, Ballard told 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer.

The gas cans were taken from behind a locked gate.

Ballard said that someone “poured gas in front of the entryways and then lit the doors on fire.”

The fire broke out around 4 a.m. and took firefighters about an hour to bring it under control. More than 100 firefighters were on the scene helping to extinguish the blaze.

No injuries were reported.

The FDNY won’t confirm the arson charge, saying only the incident is under investigation.

Since superstorm Sandy hit, the church has been a hub for volunteers helping out in the relief effort.

Occupy Sandy volunteers have used the church to store goods for residents in need.

Ballard said it’s possible that whoever set the fire was familiar with the church or the Occupy Sandy relief effort, Lehpamer reported.

Three volunteers were sleeping inside the church at the time the fire broke out, Dardashtian reported.

“Luckily, we had people here to catch it in time and got the call in real quick,” a volunteer named Sparky told CBS 2’s Dardashtian.

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