NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - The City of Norfolk brought in demolition crews and contractors to tear down a church destroyed by fire Friday afternoon.
Fire crews were called to the scene at 1020 Barney Street just after 3 p.m. Norfolk Fire spokesman Captain Mike Hicks said heavy smoke and flames were visible to crews arriving to the Church of God and True Holiness .
Hicks said it appears the fire started in the kitchen.
There were reports of flames coming through the roof of the church. They eventually reached the church's 80 foot steeple. The Church of God and True Holiness has stood tall in Norfolk for almost 70 years.
"It went up extremely fast at first," said Ruth Harris, who has lived next door to the Barney Street property for 78 years. "I looked out I just saw smoke and then I started seeing flames."
Safety concerns left firefighters unable to go inside the structure, so crews fought the fire from the street.
Harris was told to get out of her home as the heat from the fire melted the siding on her home.
"It looked like the roof of the church was ," Harris added. "They were afraid it was going to fall on my house."
Other residents nearby were also asked to evacuate.
Harris told WAVY.com she was blessed her home was save, but Pastor Raymond Worrell dealt with a different set of emotions as he watched the church he's led for 40 years be demolished.
"It was very disheartening and it brings tears to your eyes," Worrell said. "There are so many memories in that building."
Two weeks ago, copper was stolen from the church, so maintenance crews were called to do some soldering work underneath the church Friday. According to the Fire Marshal, the hot work started the blaze. The fire has been classified as accidental.
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