Church to be rebuilt, after dad allegedly starts fire that killed 2-year-old boy
UNION CITY — The church destroyed in a massive March 4 fire — allegedly started by the father of a 2-year-old boy who perished in the blaze — will be rebuilt.
Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, archbishop of Newark, announced Saturday the Ss. Joseph and Michael Parish would be restored. The fire ripped through eight buildings, displacing at least of people, and destroying the church steeple.
Two-year-old Eddie Gonzalez Jr. was the only fatal victim of the early March 4 fire. Authorities allege Eddie Gonzalez Sr., 26, and friend Edwin Diaz, 20, started the blaze. Both were indicted earlier this month on manslaughter and other charges.
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said at the time Eddie Jr. had lived at 1404 Summit Avenue with his parents and a 5-month-old sibling. Investigators found the fire started in the rear room of Apt. 2L of their building "and the cause of the fire was incendiary," the prosecutor's office said.
According to a report by NJ.com, authorities say the two men started the fire by "flicking matches" after a night of drinking and smoking marijuana.
“I know that the Union City community continues to feel pain from the events of March 4," Tobin said in a a letter distributed in both English and Spanish at Masses this weekend. "I met many of you the night of the tragedy and we shared our fears, asking Christ the Redeemer for guidance and support. Today, I am happy to report that we will rebuild Ss. Joseph and Michael.”
The church rebuilding is estimated to cost $5 million and take about 16 months to complete, according to the Archdiocese of Newark. It will restore the interior and exterior of the Church, and replace the liturgical vessels, vestments, statuary and other items that were lost in the fire, the Archdiocese said.
Funds will come from insurance coverage, it said.
“We have all prayed strongly and fervently during the past four months for this day. Our prayers have been answered," Tobin wrote.
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