STATESVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - No injuries have been reported after a fire gutted the old Western Avenue Baptist Church in south Statesville overnight, according to the Statesville Fire Department.
Firefighters received the call shortly before midnight Sunday evening and struck multiple alarms to get enough people to the scene. Chief Spencer Lee told news partner WSIC that the building is a total loss.
According to WSIC, the Western Avenue property is owned by Visions Outreach Ministries which was in the process of renovating the building. Pastor James Hunter said the church previously had a problem with one or more squatters entering the church, but believes that had been addressed. Neither the fire department nor the ministry could say if that played a role in the fire.
Pastor Hunter said he received a call from his alarm company in reference to a door alarm and arrived on scene about 15 minutes later.
“Really it was very shocking and devastating. As we were pulling up and we found a way over here because so many of the roads were blocked off because we really had big plans for this community," said Pastor Joseph Rogers.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Chief Lee predicts it will be a lengthy process to determine the cause.
FOX 46 Charlotte's news partner WSIC News contributed to this story.
#BREAKING Massive church fire in Statesville that started just before midnight being called a total loss. Hear from the pastor of Visions Outreach Ministry coming up on #GoodDayCLT. Our @AmberFOX46 & news partner, @ChrisHokeWSIC, are on scene with the latest. 📷: @Statesville_FD pic.twitter.com/MXyT6KiQz6— FOX 46 Charlotte (@FOX46News) February 11, 2019