Eight-alarm fire destroys Fountain of Life Center in Florence


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No injuries reported. Church community rebuilding after largest county fire emergency since 2013.

The community is rebuilding after an eight-alarm fire destroyed the Fountain of Life Center church in Florence.

“Mezzanines, balconies, interconnected classrooms … the fire had everything that it needed,” Florence Township Fire Department Acting Chief Robert Tharp said to reporters.

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The fire – Burlington County’s largest fire emergency since 2013 – began around 6 p.m. March 20, fire officials said.

The Burlington County Board of Commissioners released the following statement about the fire on March 21.

“Our Board was among the multitude of Burlington County residents who were shocked to learn of last night’s devastating fire at the Fountain of Life Center in Florence,” the statement said. “Our thoughts are with the church’s congregation and school community who have been impacted. The devastating loss will be felt by our entire county. While we were shaken to learn of the extent of the damages, we were relieved to learn that there was no loss of life or apparent injuries from the blaze.

“Our thanks go out to all the firefighters, police, EMS (emergency medical services) personnel and other emergency responders and professionals who battled the fire or supported the fire suppression effort, including our Burlington County Central Communications team.

“More than 50 fire departments, fire companies and agencies were dispatched from across Burlington County and beyond, making this the county’s largest fire emergency since 2013 when an 11-alarm blaze engulfed the Dietz and Watson plant in Delanco. The teamwork and professionalism exhibited by our county’s public safety leaders, telecommunicators and responders last night and today should make all of Burlington County proud,” the board said.

Student Minister Pastor Matthew Boudwin said they were working to put a plan in place for weekend services and activities.

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