A fire in a basement storage area of the 19th century First Baptist Church of Greenport led to the cancellation of Sunday morning services and was under investigation.
There were no injuries.
Jeanette LaMothe, whose husband, Thomas, is pastor of the church at 650 Main St., said she discovered a smoke condition when she went to the church before services at 8 a.m.
“I went to the church to pray and I was the only one in the building,” said LaMothe, who was in the first-floor sanctuary. “I got on my knees and smelled smoke and turned around and it was coming out of the air conditioning vent” in the basement.
LaMothe said she ran outside and called 911 and added that her husband was still at home at the time getting dressed for the scheduled 10:30 a.m. service.
“When I got there, there was heavy smoke coming out of the northwest corner of the building,” Greenport Fire Chief Wayne Miller said. He said the fire was found in the area where the electrical panel is located and “it was all charred up and burned up down there.”
Miller added, “We were able to knock it down pretty good” within about a half-hour, and the fire was contained to the storage area. “The rest of the damage was probably more smoke damage. Smoke filled the sanctuary and the whole church — we had to use an exhaust fan to get it out.”
LaMothe said that neighbors formed a prayer circle outside after firefighters arrived to give thanks that the situation wasn’t any worse. She noted that a prayer meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday in the church parking lot to give thanks again but that there was no 10:30 a.m. service.
“It could have been so much worse,” she said.
LaMothe said renovations to the basement and the fellowship hall, which is steps down from the sanctuary, were completed in March and the damage occurred in an area of the basement where renovations had been made.
“They did have to rip out the ceiling to see if there were any flames, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed,” LaMothe said.
LaMothe said the church has about 75 members. She said it was established in 1831 but that the original portion of the building was not constructed until the 1840s. She said an addition was made to the back of the structure in 1863.
Firefighters from East Marion and Southold also responded to the scene.