A century-old church in southeastern New Brunswick has been destroyed by an early morning fire.

The fire at Riverside-Albert Baptist Church started at about 6 a.m., said fire officials, who remained at the scene into the afternoon on Tuesday.

The aged wooden structure was quickly engulfed by flames, says Marilyn Kennie, who lives nearby.

"I could see the large, large fires going skyward. It was quite spectacular," she said.

"The fire department soon closed the roads and traffic was rerouted through the village. It was open to spectators, really."

Riverside-Albert Baptist Church

Many in Riverside-Albert have fond memories connected to the church. (Albert Association of Convention Baptist Churches)

Kennie says the loss of the historic church is devastating to the congregation and the community.

"A lot of the people around have been married there, it has a sentimental value to a lot of people, and the rest of us are struggling to come to terms with what's happened," she said.

"But the church is a group of people rather than a building, I hope we'll just carry on and the Lord will lead us in the next little while."

It took about 30 firefighters more than three hours to extinguish the fire.

There is no word yet on the cause of the blaze.