UPDATE: Metro Christian Centre Church in downtown Rockford demolished after massive fire

The old church has been demolished and an arson investigation is underway.
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 7:14 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - One of Rockford’s oldest churches goes up in flames Wednesday night and the Rockford Fire Department believes someone intentionally set it on fire

The former Metro Christian Centre Church is a shell and rubble right after flames and smoke tore through the building early Wednesday evening.

Now fire crews are asking neighbors if they saw anything suspicious leading up the blaze.

Heavy clouds of smoke covered downtown as the church was engulfed in fire and dozens of trucks surrounded the structure as parts of it fell to the street.

The building has been condemned for several years and many doors and windows had been boarded up and there was no electricity inside the building. Fire officials said they are opening an arson investigation.

The church was a downtown staple for many years and residents said it was heartbreaking to see it engulfed in flames.

“It’s huge it’s unbelievable. When we first pulled up the roof was still there and now it’s gone and that was only 10 minutes ago. Personally I like to take pictures of old buildings and I wanted to get pictures of it but it looks like I won’t be able to,” said Rockford resident Stacy Valdez.

Fire crews say the fire spread very quickly because the structure is made of wood and firefighters won’t be going into the building because the rooftop has asbestos throughout the building. The damages are estimated at $300,000.

Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten said the department worked with demolition crews overnight to demolish the building and put out any hot spots. He expects the area to be closed off through the early parts of Thursday morning.

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