When the flames and smoke finally cleared Friday morning, what was left of a DeKalb County church was a charred and gutted building.

Pastor Oluremi Fesojaye, of Celestial Citizens Global church, said he’d been in the sanctuary praying when he noticed smoke coming from his office shortly before 5 a.m.

“When people have issues, when they have troubles, and they tell me about it, I come to do vigil prayers,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That is what I was doing.”

The church sits on Richard Road just off Covington Highway between I-285 and Memorial Drive in the Belvedere Park area.

Fesojaye called 911 and had already gotten out of the church when DeKalb firefighters arrived. Heavy flames were pouring from two rooms on one side of the building, officials said.

Crews had to cut a hole in the structure’s metal roof as they fought the blaze.

“This is something that’s normal for us,” spokesperson Capt. Jaeson Daniels said. “We often times go through the roof to ventilate just to help out our firefighters on the inside to relieve them of smoke ... for it to be easier for them as they go along their search.”

It took 40 minutes to extinguish the blaze that damaged one-third of the structure. The rest of the property sustained smoke and water damage, authorities said.

Now, the 50-member congregation is left having to figure out where to gather for worship.

“God is going to always find a way,” Fesojaye said. “We hope for some good change.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, officials said.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.