FAIR LAWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Investigators are calling an overnight fire that spread through a Knights of Columbus hall in Fair Lawn, New Jersey intentional.
Firefighters were called to reports of smoke and flames just after 11 p.m. Tuesday. With more than 70 years of the religious organization’s history up in flames, the blaze left behind smoke damage, shattered glass and charred walls.
“When I came around that corner, I couldn’t believe it,” Knights of Columbus member Herb Currie told CBS2’s Marc Liverman. “As much as there’s damage there, the Lord was looking over us.”
Firefighters are still not confirming exactly how the fire started, but say they know it was intentional. The good news is that no one was inside at the time of the fire and no one was hurt.
“You really can’t believe it, you really can’t. You see fire trucks, and then you see smoke,” Grand Knight Mike Chiocchi said. “What happened? Why did it happen?”
“It’s very scary for this town,” said neighbor Aida Yachouh. “Very scary.”
Currie is just thankful no one was hurt, but the question keeps haunting him: Why would anyone do this?
“Why be destructive like that? Thank God there was no parties in here at the time or it would have been unbelievable,” he said. “You hurt a little bit inside but you know we’ll persevere.”
Despite all the damage, a statue of the Virgin Mary was one of the few objects inside still intact.
“This building could have went up in tinder. You know, those firemen put this out like you’re blowing a match out,” Chiocchi said. “I guess she was watching.”
Investigators were at the scene for close to six hours combing through the building for clues early Wednesday morning.