Weekend fire destroys pastor's home and church parsonage - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Weekend fire destroys pastor's home and church parsonage

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A pastor and his family is leaning on the community for support after their home was destroyed in a fire.

Firefighters responded to the home next to Northside Community Church on Mississippi Avenue around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The family of 6 was also using the space as a church parsonage for Northside Community Church.

Fire officials described tense moments for responding firefighters on the scene. They say the smoke and flames were so strong, fire actually exploded out of the building's windows sending debris some 30 feet away.

"There's always tense moments when you first enter a structure especially if it's compartmentalized and air tight," said Fire Chief Chris Adams, Chattanooga Fire Dept.

Fire Chief Chris Adams tells Channel 3, it's a miracle no one was hurt. The older two story building's air tight brick walls contained the smoke and toxic fumes to one room, causing dangerous pressure to build up inside.

"If someone were to open that door it would blow that person all the way across the street. That's why you see us when we open a door, we're down low... that's to make sure no pressure is in there," said Fire Chief Adams. "That pressure is much like a bomb going off inside, it's basically like an explosion."

Pastor Mitchell Reaves tells Channel 3, his family of 6 got out safely thanks to their smoke alarms. He admits to going back inside with a fire extinguisher, only to see the smoke and flames grow even larger. Fire officials say that was a risky move.

"Two deep breaths and the right concentration and you can be a fatality," said Fire Chief Adams. "Most fatalities happen when someone goes back inside for a dog, pocketbook, pictures and other things like that."

Reaves' family will be relying on their family, friends and church family moving forward. Right now they don't have a place to live and most of their possessions were damaged by smoke and water. Adding to the heartbreak, Reaves says all of his newly wed daughter's wedding gifts were destroyed. The gifts were being stored near the source of the blaze.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. Family members say right now it's unknown if insurance will cover their personal belongings. The total damage is estimated to be more than $100,000 dollars for the structure and its contents. If you would like to help this family, donations can be made through Northside Community Church. You can contact them using this Email: Pastor@northsidecommunity.net

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