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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Firefighters battled massive fire at Faith Lutheran Church in Cambridge

A massive fire broke out Easter Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church in Cambridge. The fire was reported April 9, around 5:30 p.m., and eventually grew into a six-alarm response, compelling Cambridge Fire Department to act heavily with mutual aid companies from Arlington, Brookline, Boston and more. No injuries or death were reported, but the fire department battled the blaze until 4 a.m. The cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation.
The church, known for its soup kitchen and German services, hosted an afternoon Easter service just a few hours before the fire erupted. According to NBC 10 Boston, Rev. Robin Lutjohann, the church’s pastor, said he had no idea who the suspect could be and that the congregation would continue to meet despite their grief at losing their meeting place.
“I trust that the investigators will do their job and find out what they can find out, and I’ll do my job and continue to pastor my congregation,” said Rev. Lutjohnn to NBC 10 Boston (1).
Sarah Dunbar, one of the longtime neighbors who witnessed the flames, told NBC 10 Boston they wouldn’t forget the scene. “Watching stained glass windows be smashed by firemen, flames, billowing smoke, the collapsing. It was bad,” said Dunbar. “It sounds like just pure hate, and that’s really troubling,” said another neighbor Ricky DeFrancisco (1).
The joint investigation began at the scene and is being conducted by the Cambridge Fire Department; Cambridge Police Department; State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit; Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Investigators believe the fire was intentional, and the FBI, along with Massachusetts State Police, are seeking public help to gather information and evidence that might help with the investigation.
Cambridge Fire Chief Thomas Cahill said in an official statement on the City of Cambridge website, “We are asking anyone with information on this fire, or who made observations in the area of the Church that Sunday evening. To share it with investigators. No piece of information is too small to share. We are keenly aware that any place of worship is a cornerstone of the community, and we want to reassure residents that we’re approaching this case with the seriousness and gravity that it deserves” (3).
According to the Boston Globe, anyone from the area who witnessed the fire or has any clips or pictures of the scene is encouraged to share them with investigators (2). Tips can be made online at tips.fbi.gov. An individual can also call the FBI’s toll-free number 1-800-CALL-FBI. Investigators urged people to submit photos and videos at fbi.gov/cambridgechurchfire.
Cambridge Mayor Sambul Siddiqui released an official statement and said that the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services concluded the fire at Faith Lutheran Church was intentionally set (4). She expressed her concerns and grieved for the community members. “I, along with, many of our neighbors, am devastated that a place of refuge for our Christian community has become a target,” said Mayor Siddiqui. “The impact of the heinous act is felt beyond the Faith Lutheran Church.”
Siddiqui thanked the community members and neighbors for stepping up during the incident to provide help and thanked the first responders for their prompt response to protect the neighbors and the 114-year-old building. Cambridge residents seeking assistance may contact the mayor’s office at (617) 349-49321.
Sources:
1. https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/fbi-calls-massive-cambridge-church-fire-on-easter-sunday-arson/3024948/
2. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/04/19/metro/arson-cambridge-church-fire/
3. https://www.cambridgema.gov/cfd/News/2023/04/pressreleasefireinvestigationbox6285of9april2023arsoncause.aspx
4. Mayor Siddiqui’s Instagram post with an official statement.

About the Contributor
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor