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Fire at Cooper-Young church under investigation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An early-morning fire at a historic Midtown church is under investigation.

Fire and police crews surrounded First Congregational Church at 1000 S. Cooper on Sunday morning.

Mark Allen, who is married to church pastor Rev. Cheryl Cornish and does maintenance on the building, said a passerby alerted him to the fire about 5:30 a.m.

He described the fire as "not minor," though the building was structurally sound. The building sustained $250,000 worth of damage, with $100,000 of damage done to the contents, according to Memphis Fire.

Fire officials said the blaze started in a clothes closet in the basement.

A prayer gathering will be held outside the building Sunday in lieu of church service.

The hostel and bike shop that operate inside the building were unaffected, Allen said.

Allen said he found a window broken out of the building Saturday, as the Cooper-Young Festival was going on, but he did not know if that was related to the fire.

If you know anything about this fire, call Crime Stoppers at 528-CASH or the state arson hotline at 1-800-762-3017. You may be eligible for a reward.