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Freemasonry Watch

Fire erupts in abandoned Cleveland Prince Hall Masonic Temple

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Fire erupts in abandoned Masonic Temple on East 55th Street in Cleveland

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

By Pat Galbincea, The Plain Dealer

Fire consumes the abandoned Masonic temple on East 55th Street in Cleveland Wednesday night.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Firefighters continue to battle a triple-alarm fire that is consuming an abandoned Prince Hall Masonic Temple at 1624 East 55th Street, which is a designated Cleveland landmark.

Firefighters expect to remain on the scene until early morning dealing with many mini fires inside the structure, said Larry Gray, spokesman for the Cleveland Fire Department.

Firefighters responded at 8:25 p.m. and found the two-story brick historic building fully engulfed in flames.

A fire chief on the scene said arson is suspected.

Firefighters worked to keep flames jumping and burning the next-door Church of the Nazarene.

Smoke could be seen from downtown Cleveland, miles away.

The back of the building collapsed about 9 p.m., Gray said.

Gray said firefighters do not believe the front of the building will collapse.

Firefighters are pouring thousands of gallons on the 103-year-old structure.

Masonic leader William Walker of Cleveland, Worshipful Master of Ecclesiastes 120, was called to the scene.

"This is a sad day for us," he said.

The building has been unused for about five years, he said. But paperwork, paintings, personal information, historic artifacts and furniture were stored in the building.

"All that will be lost," Walker said.

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