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Collapsed New London church to be completely demolished

Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU

A church that unexpectedly collapsed in downtown New London, Connecticut last week will be completely demolished.

Search and rescue teams have completed their search of the former First Congregational Church, finding no one in the rubble. City Fire Marshall Vernon Skau said they’re continuing to investigate what caused the collapse.

“Right now, we don’t have a clear definition of the chain of events that led to the collapse,” Skau said. “We know what happened in the collapse. We saw damage but we don’t understand what the initial trigger for the collapse was. And we may or may not know.”

“What we can rule out: it is not an explosion,” he added.

Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU

The church was last inspected back in 2019 with no faults, although a structural inspection was not taken. On Thursday, the spire at Emerging Heaven Church, formerly the First Congregational Church on Union Street, unexpectedly fell through the roof.

Mayor Michael Passero said the cost of the demolition work would be borne by the city, but was unable to put a figure on the cost.

Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU

“We’ve spent the day strategizing on the demolition process and how we move forward and working with engineers who have determined unfortunately that the remainder of this structure will have to be demolished completely,” he said. “So that process will be ongoing for the next few days.”

Passero said they are now looking at other historic churches in the city for possible inspection.

Meanwhile, faith groups who used the church were offered space at the city’s Garde Arts Center to hold services of healing on Sunday.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.
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