- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2014

A single Bible was recovered from the ashes of an evangelical church that was destroyed by the explosion last week in New York City’s Harlem.

Natural gas might have triggered Wednesday’s blast in East Harlem that killed eight people and injured dozens others. Two buildings containing businesses and residences were completely destroyed in the explosion.

Firefighters early Saturday pulled a large waterlogged Bible from the ruins of Spanish Christian Church, which occupied the basement and first floor of one of the buildings, CNN reported.

“One of our members found a Bible, the original book they tell me of the founders of the church,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said. “It was singed, but it meant an awful lot to the pastor because at least we have a remnant of the church. It showed the pastor they’ll be rebuilding. This church is resilient.”

Mr. Cassano told a local CBS affiliate that firefighters presented the bible to the church’s pastor, Rev. Thomas Perez, 83, who was so overwhelmed he had to be taken to the hospital for observation.

He is recovering at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

“He was overwhelmed with emotion, for sure,” Mr. Cassano said. “It’s a very sacred thing for him.”

The small church lost five members in the explosion, CNN reported.

The fire commissioner said once all the debris is removed from the area, the investigation into what caused the explosion can begin.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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