Fire guts church in Richmond neighborhood: 'Trust God for the miracle that will be born out of this misery'

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jan 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-06 19:29:51-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A church under renovation went up in flames in Richmond's Highland Park neighborhood early Saturday morning.

The "home location" of the Seventh Street Memorial Baptist Church at Newbury Avenue and Meadowbridge Road was engulfed by fire around 7 a.m.

Poster image (10).jpg

Butch Johnson, a veteran firefighter who now runs the nearby Northside Outreach thrift store, said he was very familiar with what was taking place.

"I was a firefighter for 30 years," Johnson said. "When I saw it, it was mostly concentrated in that tower where you see the charring. Of course, the ladder trucks were dumping water in from the outside.”

The retired Henrico first responder said the congregation moved out long ago and that the building was sitting empty.

"I'm always saddened by a church being displaced,” Johnson said.

Butch Johnson
Butch Johnson

In an update on the church's Facebook page, leaders said their church's "home location" was "badly damaged."

"We don’t have any details at this time but for our immediate church family, we will let you know as we know," the post reads.

Nanette Wall, who lives a few blocks from the church, said that a customer told her that someone set the fire. But she acknowledged that she didn't "know what to believe.”

Wall said the neglected building has attracted members of the homeless population.

“Makes you wonder whether or not somebody actually did set the fire to get rid of the blight,” Wall said.

Nannette Wall
Nannette Wall

Richmond Fire officials did not know if anyone was inside the building when the fire started.

The owners told firefighters that the building was under renovation.

The structure appears to be a total loss after the fire, which remains under investigation.

Poster image (6).jpg

"Please join us in prayer as we trust God for the miracle that will be born out of this misery," the church's Facebook post continues. "We still believe in our God, who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ask or think!"

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip. If you see breaking news, and can do so safely, shoot a photo or video and send it to CBS 6. You can also upload photos to our Facebook page or email from your phone.



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.