VIDEO: Flames engulfed a condemned church building Wednesday evening in downtown Rockford.
Several Rockford Fire Department engine companies were on the scene, fighting the blaze at Kishwaukee and Walnut streets and First Avenue.
The fire sent thick plumes of smoke into the sky over downtown Rockford. Smoke could be seen from miles away.
The former Rockford Masonic Cathedral, 607 Walnut St., dates back to 1869 and sits just inside the Haight Village Historic District. Officials said the building had been boarded up for some time. It was last known as the Metro Christian Centre.
The fire was first reported around 6:45 p.m. and quickly spread throughout the church necessitating a response from as many as 30 firefighters, Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten said.
The chief confirmed that the building was not in use. Several windows had been boarded up, and there was no electricity going to the building.
Old, dry timbers that frame the church are helping to fuel the fire, he added.