Old Highland Park Church burns

11:25 UPDATE: Fire Dept. extends “shelter in place” to 5 blocks around church

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11 PM UPDATE: from Chatt. Fire Dept.

“Residents living within these blocks: 3rd Street to Highland Park Avenue, 3rd Street in between Glenwood Parkway and Highland Park Ave, extending South to East Main Street at Highland Park Ave and up to Dodds Avenue are asked to shelter in place due to the smoke hazard caused by a major structure fire in the area. Please stay inside and close all of your windows and doors at this time. ”

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UPDATE: Firefighters say the blaze has traveled from the back to the front inside.  Their crews are not inside for fear of a collapse. They are just pouring water on it from outside. They have heavy equipment standing by to tear down part of the structure so they can get to the flames.

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A church where Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached has been severely damaged by fire this evening.

The 3-alarm fire broke out at the Redemption of the Nations campus at the corner of Union Ave and South Orchard Knob Avenue around 7PM.

But it is better known as the old Highland Park Baptist Church, before they moved into the mega-church facility.

Many of the buildings there are now vacant.

Firefighters attacked the flames from both inside and above.

But they had to pull the firefighters out of the building for fear it could collapse.

Highland Park Baptist was formed more than 120 years ago in the community.

It grew to one of the largest churches in the area and founded Tennessee Temple University.

But after decades of declining fortunes, the church moved to Harrison and re-branded a decade ago.

The old campus and church have been sold off to other organizations since then.

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from Chatt. Fire Dept.

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