MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The recent cold snap appears to be to blame for a church fire that broke out Thursday night in South Memphis.
The Memphis Fire Department says a furnace malfunction sparked the blaze at Blessed Trinity Baptist Church.
Fortunately, no one was injured, but half of the church was seriously damaged.
The choir was rehearsing when they smelled the smoke.
“It was truly a blessing that they did smell smoke inside and they was able to come out and see where it was coming from,” said Bishop Kenneth Buntyn.
Flames filled Blessed Trinity Baptist Church on Thursday night in a blaze that took firefighters about an hour to get under control.
Buntyn, who has been the pastor for 35 years, gave WMC5 a tour of the damage that the Memphis Fire Department estimates at roughly $100,000.
"It’s devastating but it doesn’t shatter our faith,” Buntyn said.
The sanctuary was spared, but the flames torched the rest of the church, including portions of the fellowship hall on the bottom floor and the women's restroom.
Buntyn says the mechanical room is where the fire started, which MFD now blames on a malfunctioning furnace.
Upstairs, offices and a clothes and food pantry were also damaged. Buntyn says they’ve been told the upper level of the church is not structurally sound.
He said the congregation of more than a dozen will pull through and not let this setback break their faith.
“We continue on in the faith and trust God that he will deliver us through this here – carry us through it,” Buntyn said.
The church has insurance and is in the process of making contact with the insurance company.
The pastor says he’s not sure if they’ll be able to worship there Sunday.