Update 5:56 p.m.:
Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Friedman says the city's fire investigation team has not yet determined the exact cause of the fire. Investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control are assisting the city fire department in their investigation.
He said state investigators were called in due to the size of the building and the potentially significant financial losses the church may incur.
There is no visible external damage to the building. The fire department is expected to release more information Saturday morning, Friedman said.
CORTLAND, N.Y. — Cortland firefighters are at the scene of a fire at Grace Episcopal & Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Cortland.
Shortly after 1 p.m. today, emergency crews in the city of Cortland were called to a reported structure fire at 13 Court Street, next door to the City of Cortland Fire Department Headquarters.
The fire appeared to have started in a room near the handicap entrance to the church, according to Cortland Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Friedman. Some of the fire extended into the walls of the church, he said.
Firefighters who went inside the building were met with heavy smoke, which could be seen billowing from the roof of the building as well as the front and back entrance of the church.
Kim Hill, executive director of Cortland Loaves & Fishes, said she and six other people were working in the kitchen of the church when the fire broke out in a separate part of the building. Hill said she was unsure whether they would still be serving an evening meal Friday.
Court Street between Main Street and Port Watson Street remains closed to vehicular traffic.
The Cortland Fire Department is still at the scene. The Dryden Fire Department and Homer Fire Department each sent a fire engine to the city fire department's headquarters.