By CBSBoston.com Staff

LAWRENCE (CBS) – An intense four-alarm fire ripped through the rectory at a church in Lawrence Monday night, but firefighters prevented flames from spreading. Firefighters received multiple calls for a fire at the Holy Rosary Church on Essex Street at about 6 p.m.

When firefighters arrived, there was heavy fire on the second and third floor of the rectory. The priest who lives there was the only person inside at the time and got out safe. He is now staying with a parishioner.

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Firefighters had a difficult time accessing the building due to alleyways and snow and ice. Crews were pulled out of the building before reaching the third floor due to unsafe conditions.

“This was a very tough firefight, but the firefighters and our mutual aid firefighters did an awesome job,” Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty said.

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Fire destroyed the rectory at the Holy Rosary Church in Lawrence (WBZ-TV)

The church, which is connected to the rectory by two stairways, has some smoke and water damage, but firefighters were able to protect it from the flames.

Parishioners praised the firefighters who saved the church. “They’ve done a fantastic job,” said Raymond DiFiore, who was baptized in the church 78 years ago. “This could have very easily spread right into the church and they stopped it.”

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No injuries have been reported.

CBSBoston.com Staff