Fire crews battle blaze at local church

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A church is going to have to rebuild after being engulfed in flames Monday afternoon.

Fire crews responded to the fire at Perfecting Love Community Church on Old Getwell Road just before 11:00 a.m.

Heavy, black smoke could be seen coming through the roof of the church.

"The fire quickly advanced to the roof and the attic area," said Lt. Wayne Cooke with the Memphis Fire Department.

Memphis police were called to help direct traffic as firefighters battled it for over an hour.

"I kind of looked out through the bushes just to look and I saw this church just bowling with flames," said Gerald Stewart, who stopped to see the fire. “I heard a lady say, ‘That’s my church,’ and I was like, 'Oh, Jesus.'"

Thankfully, no one was inside when it started and reports say people haven't been at the church since Sunday afternoon.

However, the damage is extensive.

"I've seen fires before, but not this bad," said Stewart. "That was pretty bad."

The southbound lanes on New Getwell Road were blocked off during all of this, causing quite a back-up in traffic.

Visibility was also minimal as smoke billowed through the streets.

"At the peak of it, you really couldn't see anything because the smoke was so thick," said Stewart. "You couldn't see the flames; you could just see smoke and when there's smoke, there's definitely fire."

He says he’s just happy to hear everyone’s alright and hopes they have a smooth recovery.

Crews are still investigating the cause of the fire and figuring how much monetary damage it caused.

Church leaders said they’re taking any donations people can offer to help rebuild.