Body found as large fire destroys abandoned Oklahoma City church

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Authorities say the body of a man was found inside a commercial building that caught fire early Monday morning.

Around 6 a.m. on Monday, firefighters were called to a blaze at an abandoned church near N.W. 2nd St. and McKinley.

“When they got on scene, they noticed that this was a vacant structure, was completely boarded up, every door every window," Acting Chief Mo Barnett, with the Oklahoma City Fire Department, said.

That made things difficult for fire crews who were unable to fight the fire from inside the building for quite some time.

“That time allowed the fire to extend very aggressively inside the structure. At that point, the chief on scene decided it was best to call for another alarm," Barnett said.

Authorities say over 70 firefighters were on the scene and began searching for trapped victims after hearing someone scream for help.

Hours later, crews made a heartbreaking discovery.

“Our crews have located a victim inside. It is a fatality, so just let me say our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased," Batt. Chief Sean Cobb said.

Crews found the victim inside a shed on the side of the building.

“It was just tragic. That’s been my church forever," Beatrice Loveless told News 4.

Loveless said transients often sought shelter in the abandoned building that was left in shambles following the deadly fire.

Now, neighbors like Loveless are reminiscing about the structure.

“They fed people on Thursday nights. They fed every Sunday. Then he gave out food baskets, he had a clothing room downstairs. He was just a nice pastor," Loveless said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.