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The firefighters first had to battle the flames, then, dodge hundreds of pounds of falling bricks as the walls of the church crumbled to the rain-soaked earth.
District 6 fire chief Tim Moyers says burning churches are some of the most dangerous places his men and women rush into.
"Churches are real dangerous because they're a large structure and it's open so you have a lot of roof collapse," Moyers said.
That's exactly why he followed his instincts to save his fellow firefighters.
"When I arrived we could see the roof buckling so I pulled them out," Moyers said. "As soon as I pulled them out the roof collapsed."
Fire officials received the call just after 1:00 p.m. They say no one was inside and there were no injuries.
Wanda Beaird saw the flames from her home across the street.
"It was engulfed," Beaird said. Just a big engulfed ball of smoke. "That was the first thing I saw. Then all of a sudden I saw all these flames protruding out of the sides. It was very frightening."
As the flames spread, she found the pastor, who lives next door to the church and consoled him as the walls literally crashed down.
"As we embraced, I could tell his heart was very heavy," Beaird said.
But from the tragedy, there was hope, as two firefighters salvaged the cross from the rubble, and carried it away from the smoke.
"People rally in moments like this," said Jeff Sexton, the assistant district superintendent of the Tennessee Church of the Nazarene. "There's an energy that comes, there's a unity that comes that sometimes doesn't exist except in the wake of a tragedy like this."
Sexton said this wasn't the first time the congregation lost its home to a fire.
He said the congregation formed in 1948 and its original building was destroyed by a fire in the 70s and rebuilt at its current address in Antioch.
Fire officials said the cause of this fire is still under investigation.
Monday, January 14 2013, 03:26 PM CST
Man pleads guilty to Memphis officer's murder
May 21, 2013 22:22 GMT
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- A former death row inmate is set to be released from prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of a Memphis police officer.
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said Tuesday that she has accepted Timothy McKinney's guilty plea.
McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Officer Don Williams. The officer was killed outside a comedy club in December 1997.
McKinney appealed and won a new trial, which ended with a deadlocked jury. A third trial earlier this year also ended in a hung jury.
The Commercial Appeal reports that McKinney was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Since he's already served more than 15 years -- including 11 on death row -- McKinney will be released this week.
Williams' family opposed the settlement.
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Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
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By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
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