By CBSBoston.com Staff

TOWNSEND (CBS) – An early morning fire destroyed the rectory of Saint John’s Church in Townsend and injured a priest who tried to put out the flames.

The fire started just before 2 a.m. on Highland Street.

Townsend Fire Chief Mark Boynton said when crews showed up flames were coming from the first-floor windows and eventually spread to the second and third floors.

The rectory at Saint John’s Church in Townsend was destroyed by fire. (WBZ-TV)

The priest, Fr. Jeremy St. Martin, was the only person inside at the time.

The chief said the priest discovered the fire when the smoke detector went off. He suffered burn to his hands trying to put the fire out, but has since been released from the hospital.

“I grew up going to this church and the rectory and everything,” said Jennifer Bardell. She and a few others were hanging out at the rectory with Fr. Jeremy a few hours before the fire.

Deacon Chuck Kelley said Fr. Jeremy is in good spirits as he rests and recovers. “We’re glad he’s alive and here and can continue to serve.

The rectory is considered a total loss.

Firefighters have not yet said what caused the fire. The state fire marshal’s office said “it does appear to be a case where working smoke detectors may have prevented a tragedy.”

CBSBoston.com Staff