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Short circuit blamed in South Boston church fire

The church on West Broadway was badly damaged by a five-alarm fire.

John Tlumacki/Globe staff

The church on West Broadway was badly damaged by a five-alarm fire.

Antiquated wiring in a ceiling light fixture behind the main altar of St. John the Baptist Albanian Orthodox Church in South Boston short-circuited, causing the five-alarm fire that damaged the church Wednesday, Boston fire officials say. The church suffered extensive damage to the roof and the area behind the altar where the fire began, said Steve MacDonald, spokesman for the Boston Fire Department. MacDonald said there was also a danger that the “very back part” of the church might collapse. Fire investigators and officials with the city's Inspectional Services Department assessed the damage to the church this morning.

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The fire broke out Wednesday morning around 9:15 a.m. at 410 West Broadway, officials said. Total damage was estimated at $1 million, and Acting Fire Chief John Hasson told reporters at the scene Wednesday that the church “looks like it’s going to be a total loss.”

Eight firefighters were injured fighting the blaze. Seven of the eight have been released, but one who sustained a deep cut to the leg needed surgery and remains in the hospital, MacDonald said.

Jasper Craven can be reached at jasper.craven@globe.com or on Twitter @Jasper_Craven.
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