🔥 The fire quickly engulfed the Fountain of Life Center church in Florence

🔥 Over 150 firefighters from New Jersey and Pennsylvania helped battle the fire

🔥 The fire spared the church's recreation center and school, Life Center Academy

FLORENCE — Over 150 firefighters from New Jersey and Pennsylvania battled a massive fire for hours Monday night at the Fountain of Life Center church.

The fire was first reported around 6 p.m. and quickly engulfed the church building on Columbus Road. Kids playing basketball at the church's recreation center were forced to flee, according to Fox 29.

Florence Township Administrator Robert Tharp told NBC Philadelphia that there is limited water supply in the area of the church, which forced firefighters to bring in tankers and set up pools of water to pour onto the blaze.

The roof of the church and the cross collapsed as firefighters worked into the night.

Fire at the Fountain of Life Center in Florence 3/20/23
Fire at the Fountain of Life Center in Florence 3/20/23 (Medford Lakes Fire Department)

Firefighters on scene all night

The fire appeared to be brought under control by 11 p.m., 6 ABC Action News reported. Firefighters remained at the scene all night pouring water onto the remains of the building to make sure hotspots didn't flare up, according to CBS Philadelphia.

An initial investigation indicates the fire may have started in the church’s sanctuary, according to 6 ABC Action News.

Smoke comes out of the Fountain of Life Center in Florence 3/20/23
Smoke comes out of the Fountain of Life Center in Florence 3/20/23 (Jersey Coast Emergency News)

"It's just a building"

Pastor Russ Hodgins told 6 ABC Action News that the church is just a building and was optimistic about its future. Part of that optimism comes from the fact that their school, Life Center Academy, and the center's recreation center were both spared.

"We're going to be able to hold services there. There are three basketball courts, we have bleachers that hold nearly a thousand people. So while we rebuild, and we will rebuild, we believe we will be stronger than ever," Hodgins said.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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