RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A house of worship with doors open since before the Civil War suffered more than $100,000 in damage Friday, after a fire gutted part of the rectory at historic St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
Workers were replacing gutters on top of the rectory, when a welding accident caused part of the roof to ignite. Richmond Fire crews closed off part of North 25th Street near Broad Street, gaining control of the incident just before 4 p.m.
"The ceiling's all black, and there's debris everywhere," said Father Gino Rossi in an interview Friday. "Inside, there's pretty extensive damage. One of the guys told me, 'It looks like a tornado when through here,' and that's definitely the case."
The fire did not spread to the main church building next door. St. Patrick's church has been in operation since 1860, and the priests who call the rectory home may now be forced out of the building for months.
"Just say an extra prayer when you're going to bed tonight," Rossi said. "And thank you to the firemen of this city, who risk their lives and go into hot buildings that they could die in to save us."
Rossi is now staying with family members nearby, and added a final thought while looking at the now ashen walls inside.
"We'll be ok. God will take care of us."
Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved