Fire at historic Arlington church under investigation

Fire marshals are investigating what caused a two-alarm fire that broke out at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington, Virginia, early Friday morning.

Pastor Sara Keeling shared that the fire started in the church attic above the music and education wing in a statement Friday afternoon.

“There is likely extensive smoke and water damage to that part of the building,” Keeling said. “The sanctuary and preschool wings were not harmed.”

The church has asked all congregants to avoid entering the building until further notice.

Worship service will be held outdoors on Sunday at 11 a.m. Congregants are asked to bring blankets and chairs to sit on.

There will also be no Sunday School held that morning, but there will be a youth event for kids and families that will be held at 4:30 p.m.

The fire was reported around 3 a.m. on North Glebe Road near 15th Street.

An Arlington County Fire & EMS spokesman told WTOP the flames could be seen through the roof, but firefighters quickly got them under control.

After hearing reports that no injuries occurred, the parish thanked first responders from the surrounding areas for their work.

“We are beyond grateful that no one was injured and this was no worse than it is, but we still ask that you be in prayer for our community, clergy, and staff as we navigate the following days and weeks,” Keeling said.

Fire crews are now in the process of removing debris from the structure, and investigators remain on the scene.

Fire officials say the church is still being assessed for damage, but will likely still be usable.

The church, established in 1854, is Arlington’s oldest church that is in continuous use, according to the church’s website.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is an Associate Producer at WTOP and a graduate of the University of Maryland. She enjoys covering the intersection of arts, culture and social justice in local communities. She began as an intern with WTOP in the summer of 2021.

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