City recommends emergency demolition of church, home after W 37th Street fire

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – City officials are recommending emergency demolition of First Metropolitan Baptist Church and a nearby home after a large fire broke out Sunday night.

Firefighters got the call about a massive fire on West 37th street around 11:30 p-m Sunday night. The fire took several hours to put out. All three buildings sustained heavy damage but were reportedly empty at the time.

“It was burning, burning, burning, and all the fire trucks came and battled the blaze,” said Charles Waddel.

The fire broke out just two houses down from where Waddel lives.

“The fire department got us up last night around I say around 11:30, quarter to 12 and the house and the church were both engulfed at that time,” said Waddel.

Officials said the fire started at 306 W. 37th St, but by the time firefighters arrived, it had already spread next door to the First Metropolitan Baptist Church and a neighboring home.

“oh man people who saw a little bit of it last night—we were talking about it, how bad it was and everything,” said Waddel. “How it was engulfed and all, it was pretty rough.”

So rough in fact, that the city’s Development Services department is recommending emergency demolition for both 306 west 37th street and the First Metropolitan Baptist Church.

“I feel kind of saddened by it because this isn’t something we usually have happen around here but seeing to me it started coming pretty rapidly now,” said Waddel. “I am seeing it happen quite often and I don’t like it.”

As of now, the buildings are marked by bright orange signs that read condemned.

On Monday, Savannah’s Code Compliance Department received reports recommending the demolition of the home at 306 W 37th Street and First Metropolitan Baptist Church. City officials said they were waiting to see if property owners would sign waivers to allow contractors to move forward with emergency demolition.

The city has temporarily closed portions of W 37th and Jefferson streets for emergency demolition.

“W 37 St is closed to westbound traffic between Barnard and Montgomery streets; drivers should use Whitaker or Barnard streets southbound to Victory Drive westbound,” the City of Savannah tweeted. “Jefferson Street between W 36 & W 37 is also closed until demolition is complete.”

Those closures are expected to last through Wednesday, the city added.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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