ATF investigating after flames engulf Kannapolis church

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — More than 70 firefighters worked to put out a massive 3-alarm church fire in Kannapolis early Saturday morning.

[PHOTOS: Flames destroy Kannapolis church]

(Click PLAY to watch cellphone video of the fire)

Emergency crews were called before dawn to Grace Baptist Church on East 11th Street, near Laura Avenue, and found heavy smoke and flames shooting from the roof of the building.

Officials told Channel 9 that 75 firefighters from across the area were called in to help fight the massive fire. Units from the Salisbury and Concord fire departments assisted the Kannapolis Fire Department in fighting the fire.

Onlookers gathered to watch the crews work to put out the raging flames and at one point witnessed the church's steeple collapse in the fire.

The church has been a staple in the community for 75 years.

(Click PLAY to watch raw video of the church steeple collapsing)

No firefighters were hurt and it took roughly two hours to get the flames knocked down.

The church has been deemed a total loss, and neighbors Channel 9 spoke with were devastated.

"When I came out and seen that church on fire it just upset me terribly, I started crying," said Deborah Cavin.

Channel 9 was told that the congregation is slated to meet in a fellowship hall Sunday morning.

The ATF has been called in to investigate the cause of this fire, but officials told Channel 9 that they think the cause was accidental.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.