An area firebug was still being sought by investigators after attempting to torch an Ozone Park church early Monday morning, according to fire officials and published reports.
A “small, deliberately set” blaze at the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church community center on 101st Avenue was extinguished before city Fire Department personnel arrived, an FDNY spokesman said. No injuries were reported.
According to a New York Post report, church custodian Nathaniel Rodriguez was taking out the trash around 2 a.m. when he spotted the lights on in the center, which stands across the street from the sanctuary. He said he could feel the heat outside on the sidewalk.
After walking into the center, Rodriguez told the Post that he noticed the floors had sustained fire damage, every gas burner on the stove had been turned on and an aerosol can was placed on top of the stove.
Additionally, the church’s office had been pillaged.
Christ Evangelical is set to merge later this year with St. Luke’s Lutheran of Woodhaven and St. Philip’s Lutheran of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, to become All Saints Lutheran Church. The respective congregations voted to unite in an effort to save money at a time when membership at each individual church has steadily declined, St. Luke’s Deacon Roberta Detmers told The Forum in May.
By Michael V. Cusenza