Fire chief: Torch sparked fire at historic Portsmouth church

An historic church caught fire Wednesday, January 3 in downtown Portsmouth. Flames could be seen engulfing the Monumental United Methodist Church, which was under construction. Credit: WAVY/Chris Horne

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A fire that burned the steeple of an historic Portsmouth church was sparked by a torch, officials say.

Chief Jim Hoffler of the Portsmouth Fire Rescue says a company was weather-proofing the steeple of the Monumental United Methodist Church. A torch that was being used for the work caused the fire.

Gallery: Historic Church on Fire in Portsmouth

The church, which has been on the Virginia Landmarks Register since 2004, caught fire twice in one day. Dramatic images and video captured the fire as well as the response from firefighters.

Flames could be seen engulfing the steeple from WAVY Tower Cam 10. The fire rekindled later in the evening, but was eventually extinguished.

Church officials said the day of the fire that all staff members were safe. The fire caused significant water damage to the church’s sanctuary, according to the church’s reverend.

Stay with for the latest developments.