PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An extra-alarm fire Wednesday night destroyed a church in Paterson, New Jersey.

The fire broke out Wednesday night at the Central Baptist Church, or Iglesia Bautista Central, at 6 E. 20th St., officials said. The blaze was later raised to four alarms.

The fire was already burning out of control when firefighters arrived, officials said.

CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported the fire started in the upper level the church. At the time, there were about 40 people inside for Bible study, including children.

All were successfully evacuated.

“We started to smell a little smell like of a burned wire, so I started to look around to see if there was something like a flame, but there was nothing,” said Marilyn Castro, the wife of the church pastor.
And then I went outside through the front door, and that’s when one of the neighbors had said that there was smoke coming out from the top of the roof of the church.”

Sixty firefighters came to the scene to fight the fire. They were still watering down hotspots hours after the fire began.

“The roof quickly collapsed, and with these conditions, they’ve been fighting from a defensive mode pretty much early on since they got here,” said Paterson fire Chief Michael Postorino.

The cause of the blaze was unknown late Wednesday, but Castro said they were having work done on the roof.

“It’s very heartbreaking, but we trust in the Lord that there’s something better ahead for us,” Castro said.

One firefighter suffered injuries that were not considered serious. No church members or other civilians were hurt.

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