City firefighters battle a 3-alarm blaze at a building under construction at Gay and Federal streets in downtown Baltimore Monday night. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)
A community center and apartments being built across the street from the Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore were ablaze Monday night — a huge, raging fire visible from blocks away.
Firefighters were called at 8:49 p.m. to the three-alarm fire engulfing the building at Gay and Federal streets. Authorities said they did not know the cause, nor whether the fire was related to rioting elsewhere in the city.
As crews from multiple companies were attempting to control the blaze, about 60 parishioners watched in shock, many of them crying.
"Who would do this to our church? one woman sobbed. "Why, why?"
Baltimore Fire Department spokesman Capt. Roman Clark said unrest on the west side — which included a burned and looted CVS convenience store at Pennsylvania and West North avenues — did not affect firefighters' ability to respond.