Occupy Sandy Church Hit With 'Suspicious' Fire, Police Say

By Paul DeBenedetto and Tuan Nguyen  on December 24, 2012 1:04pm

CLINTON HILL — A church doubling as the headquarters for Occupy Sandy was torched early Sunday morning in an apparent arson, officials said.

The FDNY responded to a call about 4 a.m. Sunday on a two-alarm fire on the first floor of the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, at 520 Clinton Ave. in Clinton Hill, an FDNY spokesman said.

Since Hurricane Sandy, Occupy Sandy has been using the church as its headquarters, collecting food and clothes and providing direct aid for the victims of the storm in areas like the Rockaways and New Dorp Beach. The church also stored holiday toys for children in those hardest-hit areas.

An alleged arsonist poured gasoline, stored in the church by Occupy Sandy, around the front doors of the church and set it on fire, according to the New York Post.

"We've had enough trouble already," said Dell Marie Anderson, 57, who lives nearby. "What's wrong with these people? It's a church."

Three church volunteers were inside when the fire broke out, but they were unhurt, according to witnesses.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control shortly after 5:30 a.m., the FDNY spokesman said.

An NYPD spokesman said the fire was deemed "suspicious," and the investigation is ongoing.

The fire damaged the church's facade, officials said.

On Monday, workers were helping to clean up before the Christmas Eve mass.

“It’s bad that we have 50 people standing here in the street [this morning] but we’re adjusting to that,” said Occupy Sandy volunteer Amy Miller, 35. “We hope people remember that there are still people in the Rockaways, in Coney Island, in Staten Island, in Manhattan still suffering from the hurricane.”

Despite the fire, one Occupy Sandy volunteer said that all 500 children's toys were unscathed and were sent to the Rockaways on Monday morning for a Christmas party.

"They're completely undamaged," said a 28-year-old Occupy Sandy volunteer named Howie. "It's like a miracle."

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