UPDATED | February 17, 2016 8:11 AM


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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – First responders were called out early Wednesday morning to battle a blaze at a church in west Oak Cliff.

The call about a fire, at the Iglesias de Cristo – Camino de Santidad in the 800 block of North Westmoreland Road, came in just after 6:30 a.m.

Firefighters arrived about 10 minutes later and reported finding the two-story church fully involved and deemed it to be a two-alarm blaze. About 15 minutes later, a third alarm was sounded.

From the air, the church looked to be completely destroyed, with the center of the building burned to the ground. By 8 a.m. there were still some 75 firefighters at the scene.

Residents say the building has been a church for at least 50 years. Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Joel Lavender said he remembered the building being the Beverly Hills Baptist Church back in the 1970s.

Officials with DFR say it was too dangerous for firefighters to go inside the sanctuary to battle the blaze. While the church could not be saved, firefighters were able to stop the flames from spreading to a building next door — that building is the church family life center and office.

Lt. Lavender said, “We made a stop between the sanctuary and the office buildings. That was a huge accomplishment by Dallas Fire-Rescue.”

The church’s pastor and his family live next door to the church, and are thankful that a stranger came by to make sure that they were safe. “A Good Samaritan knocked on our door and told us that the church was on fire and that we had to hurry up and get out,” said Edith Lima, the pastor’s wife. “We walked out to see what it was and we realized that the whole temple was full in flames and smoke.”

The majority of the older church is believed to have been built with wood, which made easy fuel for the fire. But investigators have not determined exactly what sparked the blaze. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting with the investigation, which a spokesman said is common for church fires.

No one was believed to have been inside the church at the time of the fire. No citizens or firefighters were injured.

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