By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Over 100 firefighters battled a massive multi-alarm fire at a North Philadelphia church on Thursday afternoon that caused dozens to evacuate the area.

Fifty trucks and 120 firefighters are working to contain the blaze at the Original Apostolic Faith Church of the Lord Jesus Christ on the 1500 block of North Broad Street, between Jefferson and Oxford.

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When crews arrived on the scene around 2:30 p.m., they found smoke in the rear of the building, and heavy flames were then discovered in the middle of the church.

The fire has reached three alarms. The blaze is now under control after four hours.

“When we left here Tuesday night–we had church here Tuesday night–so everything was locked up and everything was secure,” said Fred Tooks, who’s related to the pastor of the church.


More than 120 students living in Temple off-campus apartments were forced to evacuate due to the blaze.

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“We’ve made arrangements with the fire marshal if they have to get any medicine out for the evening,” said Tom Citro, owner of Temple Nest Apartments.

Tom Citro, the owner Temple Nest Apartments, originally planned to find temporary overnight housing for his tenants, but the Office of Emergency Management deemed the apartments safe as hot spots burned in what’s left of the church across the street.

“Honestly I’d probably just let everything air out. Our landlord pretty much said open the back windows. I think it should be ok in about two hours to come back and stay the night,” said student Nikita Patel.

The fire has caused several roads to close. North Broad Street is closed between Cecil B. Moore and Thompson Road, including Girard Avenue. The 1400 block of Jefferson Street, the 1400 block of Carlisle Street and the 1300 block of Master Street are also closed.

The blaze also caused some delays on the Broad Street Line and Ridge Spur service. The service has since resumed with residual delays.

There are no reports of injuries.

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There is no word on what caused the fire.