CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The corner of McCallie and Park Avenues doesn't look the same after an abandoned church collapsed, Tuesday morning.

People living in the neighborhood say it's amazing no one was injured.

"We bought this whole church for $50,000," says Pastor M.T. Billingsley.

Billingsley had to see it for himself.

This was once Tucker Missionary Baptist Church but now abandoned came tumbling down.

"I took this path they say about 20 minutes before it happened, it was really close," says Sarah Prince.

Prince and Jeremy Bates live just two doors down, they say this is a busy sidewalk.

"I'm just glad it didn't land on someone there are lots of UTC students who use this parking lot and walk to school," says Jeremy Bates.

Investigators say it's not clear if the church was undergoing rennovation or maybe demolition.

Bates says he's been able to hear people working inside for sometime.

The collapse put the skids on traffic in the area for most of the day.

"McCallie was closed, I thought what happened, I basically did a circle," says another neighbor, Jeff Smith.

Building inspectors called for an excavator to rip down what remained as unstable parts of the church.

Investigators say no one was inside the church at the time of the collapse but they did evacuate nearby residents.

"They said there was a small chance of a domino effect...we were a little worried," says Prince.

Firefighters used hose lines to keep the area wet while the machines removed material. Inspectors were concerned about asbestos fibers being released into the air. The building has been condemned.

"Hopfully there's not a concern, surely they wouldn't let us come back If there was," says Prince.

"I'm very concerned because it's so close to my apartment and there are children living in the neighborhood," says Smith.


CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – Fire crews are still on the scene of a building collapse on McCallie Avenue.

The structure, previously home to The Living Word Ministries, is located at 863 McCallie Avenue. According to witnesses, the partial building collapse happened around 9:30 a.m.

Investigators say they are getting conflicting reports as to whether the building was being remodeled or if it was being prepared for demolition, but say the owner of the building is reported in Atlanta.

Fire Crews and city building inspectors are still concerned the tower portion of the church could collapse.

No injuries have been reported in the collapse, and no one was reportedly in the building, but firefighters still want to search the rubble to be certain.

An employee at the coffee shop across the street from the collapsed building tells Eyewitness News several homeless people were known to hang out around the abandoned building.

Battalion Chief Winston Shields said the rest of the structure will need to be razed before firefighters or anyone else steps foot on the property. City building inspectors are working with the firefighters to determine the best way to safely demolish what's left of the building.

The initial plan, according to fire officials, is to bring in some heavy equipment from a private contractor to raze the structure. That operation is expected to last several hours.

EPB has removed lines in front of the building and Chattanooga Gas has shut off gas service.

Debris is blocking the road on Park Avenue and Police have blocked off McCallie due to additional collapse fears.