Historic Chapel Burns in Alexandria

An historic structure in Alexandria, Va., was completely damaged by a two-alarm fire Friday afternoon.

Firefighters were dispatched at about 3:40 p.m. Friday for the fire at the main chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary.

The chapel was built in 1823, which presented challenges for firefighters, News4's Jackie Bensen reported.

"It has unreinforced masonry walls, so the bricks are really held together with lime-based mortar, so as we put water on it, that starts to wash out," Alexandria Fire Chief Adam Thiel said. "Also, as the wooden structural members are burned away … we have a lot of collapse potential, so that's why moved a lot of crews away from the building."

When firefighters arrived, they found fire coming from every window. Their first action was to protect the neighboring historic structure from catching fire.

Since the wood in the structure was so old, it burned differently than modern structures.

"It burns very hot," Thiel told Bensen. "The good news is those structural members are much larger in diameter than modern structural components, so we have a little bit more time with these kinds buildings."

The damage included a partial roof collapse. Just a skeleton of the chapel remains.

No injuries were reported. The cause is under investigation.

The chapel had been used for daily worship services.

Contact Us