VIDEO: Flames tore through the rectory of a Townsend church early Monday morning, sending a priest to the hospital with burns to his hands, officials said.
The rectory of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, at 20 Highland St., still had flames shooting from the roof just after 5 a.m. and fire crews from several towns were called in to help as the fire, which started just before 2 a.m., grew to four alarms.
Townsend Fire Chief Mark Boynton said the priest was inside the rectory and heard the smoke detectors going off on the first floor. He used a fire extinguisher to try to put out the flames but the fire grew. The priest, whom officials have not named, suffered burns to his hands and was taken to the hospital but has since been released, he said.
The second floor of the building collapsed onto the first as firefighters continued to put out hotspots.