The city of Ashford in south Alabama is still trying to cope with the loss of one of its historic buildings. The old First Baptist Church caught fire and burned Friday. Three days later the smell of smoke is still in the air.
Officials say the First Baptist Church was originally built at a different location in 1893. When that building burned, the congregation moved and the new church was built in 1939.
First Baptist sold the building a decade ago and moved its congregation out to Highway 84. The facility was currently the home to the Church of Faith, Hope and Charity. Attempts were unsuccessful to get in contact with the pastor to see how the congregation will move forward.
People passed by the destroyed church all day Monday and they remain stunned one of Ashford's oldest churches is now gone.
The loss of the building does not diminish the memories made inside. Over the years there were hundreds of marriages, baptisms and funerals for loved ones.
Resident Kathy Shelley stood on the corner in front of the church and watched it go up in flames as crews worked to douse the blaze. She recorded video on her phone as the bright orange flames took off the roof, the heavy white smoke temporarily hiding the damage.
Shelley had a special bond with the old church. It was where she was married in 1980 and where she watched her children as they were baptized.
"It was heartbreaking," Shelley said. "We have so many memories here." She says her memories can't burn down with the church, and she and her family will hold them for the rest of their lives.
The building, deemed a total loss, was insured for an unspecified amount of money. There is no immediate word on what caused the fire.