Federal Agents, Fire Marshals Investigating Church Fire That Injured Three Firefighters

The fire that destroyed a Dover, Delaware church early this morning is being investigated by the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office, according to Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio.

The Cheswold Fire Company along with other assisting fire companies responded to the 5000 block of West Denney’s Road shortly before 1:00 am for a report of a building on fire. Upon arrival, firefighters encountered a large volume of fire engulfing the unoccupied Little Union Church.

State fire investigators were alerted and sent to the scene. The investigators along with federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are searching for the fire’s origin and cause. Chionchio said the BATFE response follows protocol and does not allude to the nature of this investigation.

Three firefighters were injured and treated at the Kent General Hospital in Dover, Delaware. All three victims were listed in good condition. There were no other injuries.

Heavy fire damage was estimated at $100,000. This investigation continues.

Original Report

Fire at a historic church in Dover sends three firefighters to the hospital overnight.

Ay 1:00 this morning Monday, December 31, 2018, firefighters with the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company were dispatched to a building fire at 5083 West Denneys Road. Firefighters from the Dover Fire department, Leipsic Volunteer Fire Company, and Kent County Medics were also dispatched to assist.

Upon their arrival, crews found the one-story Little Union Church with heavy fire showing from several windows. Command ordered the railroad tracks near the building shutdown to allow access to the closest hydrant across the tracks.

As crews were extinguishing the fire, one of the side walls collapsed resulting in a mayday call. Command immediately ordered the building evacuated and began an accountability check. Within minutes all firefighters were accounted for. Three firefighters were transported to a local hospital and were treated and released with minor injuries.

The Little Union Church that sits adjacent to the Fork Branch Cemetery is all that is left of the historic village of Fork Branch. Interred in the cemetery are direct descendants of the Lenape Indian Tribe.

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