The Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner is looking into a fire that destroyed a Tattnall County church.
Around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, fire ripped through the Collins Full Gospel Tabernacle Church at 600 Pearl St. in Collins.
Investigators believe the fire started in the rear side of the church. The flames were so intense that they quickly spread to the pastors office.
Pastor Andrew Nelms says he was sleeping in the parsonage nearby when someone came knocking on his door. He tried to get some of his personal belongings out of his office, but nothing could be saved. He described the scene as chaos.
"On a personal level, I lost all my bibles, my commentaries from 10 years back, my preaching notes and a lot of things you cant regain," said Nelms. "For some of our older members it is really devastating."
Just hours before Sunday service, the church that was established in the 1930's went up in flames. Nelms says he is thankful no was inside at the time of the blaze. The tin roof trapped the heat inside, causing the roof the cave in and destroy a place that was dear to so many.
"The church has been here estimating close to 80 years." said Nelms. "It has a lot of historical value and a lot of sentimental value to folks in the community, not just members of the church. Through the years, there have been a lot of weddings. A lot of sentimental value."
The flames also singed the back panels of the new church building that is currently under construction. It's nowhere near completion. The congregation is trying to raise the money to finish it.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. In the meantime, church goers are trying to find another place to gather.
The church does have insurance, but they're waiting for a specific cause of the fire to start a claim. Anyone with information is asked to call the state arson line at 1.800.282.5804.